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The family of a 15-year-old girl slain in 1985 in Soka, Saitama Prefecture, will appeal a ruling that cleared three men alleged to have killed the girl and rejected the family’s civil damages suit against the trio, their lawyers said Monday.

The appeal against the damages suit is expected to be filed with the Supreme Court.

The murder, known as the Soka Incident, has produced conflicting rulings during the 17 years since the girl was found murdered in July 1985 and six boys, then aged between 13 and 15, were subsequently arrested on charges of rape or murder.

The Supreme Court rejected the boys’ appeal against the criminal charge in July 1989, resulting in their conviction. Five have since served time in correctional facilities, while the youngest was sent to a reform school.

In January 1989, the girl’s family filed a civil suit seeking 55 million yen in damages against Kazuya Shiba, now 33, and two others the family said were the main culprits.

In February 2000, the civil case reached the top court, which rejected an earlier high court ruling under which the boys were found guilty and ordered to pay compensation. The top court said the confessions the investigators obtained from the boys did not match the physical evidence.

The case was then returned to the Tokyo High Court, which on Oct. 29 ruled against the victim’s family and also disputed the credibility of the confessions.

Of the three, Shiba and Keiichi Shinoda, 31, appeared before the media and disclosed their names after the Oct. 29 ruling.

They were accompanied by Tadayoshi Yamada, 33, who was accused of rape but not murder.

The third man targeted in the suit has withheld his identity. The identities of underage offenders are withheld in Japan.

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