The 10-month probe into the death of Briton Lucie Blackman moved toward its end Friday, when investigators indicted Joji Obara on charges of raping and fatally drugging the former hostess in July 2000.

Although prosecutors and police have not officially announced an end to their investigation, police sources said they do not expect Obara to face a more severe charge, such as murder, due to a lack of evidence.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office alleges that the 48-year-old Obara raped and drugged Blackman, 21, in his condominium in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture, in early July, resulting in her death.

They also allege Obara later dismembered Blackman’s body and dumped the remains in a beach cave in Miura, also in Kanagawa Prefecture. The remains were discovered in early February.

The sources said it would be hard to charge Obara with murder without more evidence to prove that he intended to kill the woman.

The sources also said videotapes seized from Obara’s property indicate that the Tokyo businessman was involved in numerous other incidents of drugging and raping women, totaling several hundred cases since the early 1980s.

With Friday’s indictment, Obara now faces charges relating to attacks on seven women, including a charge of fatally drugging Australian Carita Ridgway.

Court hearings on cases excluding those of Blackman and Ridgway have already begun at the Tokyo District Court.

Obara has pleaded not guilty in all the cases, saying the women involved agreed to have sex with him.

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