• Kyodo

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The parents of a 19-year-old male murdered in December 1999 in Tochigi Prefecture filed a 153 million yen damages suit Monday with the Utsunomiya District Court against the prefecture, the three teenage perpetrators and their five parents.

The murder of Masakazu Sudo, a company employee from Kaminokawa, drew attention because police bungled an investigation and failed to prevent the crime.

Police have since owned up to and apologized for a series of slipups and have reprimanded the officers involved.

But Sudo’s parents decided to sue because they were unsatisfied with the internal police investigation of the case.

In October 1999, the parents asked the local police station in Ishibashi to search for their son but were ignored despite repeated requests, according to the suit. They were reportedly told the case was not worth investigating.

In the suit, the parents assert that the uncooperative attitude of the police led to the murder.

They cited an instance in which two days before the slaying, a policeman identified himself in a phone call made by Sudo to his father. According to the suit, this allowed the perpetrators to learn of police involvement.

The suit was also filed against the parents of the teenage perpetrators for their failure to supervise their children.

In September 1999, the three teenagers — all aged 19 at the time — abducted Sudo, tortured him and extorted a large amount of money from him, and then on Dec. 2 strangled him with a necktie in a forest in the town of Ichikai.

Of the three teens, two were given indefinite prison terms, while one was handed a five-to-10 year sentence.

Sudo’s parents published a 224-page memoir of their son Monday. It includes the painful experience they endured after his murder and their sharp criticism of the police force.

“I want to convey the truth of the incident to as many people” as possible, said Sudo’s father, Mitsuo, 50, explaining how the earlier trial had “not sufficiently identified the suffering and fear experienced by Masakazu.”

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