The mothers of British and Australian women who were slain in Japan, in 2000 and 1992, told the Tokyo District Court on Thursday that Joji Obara, who stands accused of raping and fatally drugging their daughters, should be sentenced to life in prison.
Jane Steare, the mother of Lucie Blackman, demanded that the court “hand down the most severe sentence in its power.” Life imprisonment is the heaviest punishment a court may give to Obara based on the charges he faces.
Steare tearfully described her impression when she saw Lucie’s dismembered body, which was discovered by police in February 2001 in a cave on the shore in Miura, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, just meters away from one of Obara’s residences.
“To lose a child and to know her body was desecrated in such an evil way is the greatest and most unrelenting pain I have ever had to endure,” she said.
Obara also stands accused of eight other drug and rape cases between 1996 and 2000, but he has pleaded not guilty to all of them.
Obara, who has been in detention since his arrest in October 2000, did not attend Thursday’s session but his defense team presented a letter to presiding Judge Tsutomu Tochigi that said he cannot attend a trial session held on the assumption he is guilty.
Steare, 52, blasted Obara’s absence, calling it “dishonorable” and Obara “a coward.”
Prosecutors allege in the indictment that Obara drugged and raped Blackman, who was killed, on July 1, 2000, at his condominium in Zushi, near Miura, and dismembered her corpse and buried it in a cave between July 5 and 7.
Steare also revealed that Obara offered her £200,000 “to undermine the impact” of her court statement. “I have rejected all and any financial offers from the accused.”
One of Obara’s attorneys told reporters after the session that his client offered Blackman’s family £300,000 pounds in compensation. He did not elaborate.
Obara was also charged with drugging and raping Australian Carita Ridgway, also 21, on Feb. 15, 1992. Ridgway died at a Tokyo hospital two weeks later.
Annette Foster, her mother, urged that Obara be sentenced to life, “The maximum penalty should be handed down.
“I humbly ask the court, please, please never release this man to your society to continue to harm innocent women,” Foster said.
She also said she has rejected 500,000 Australian dollars from Obara.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.