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The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by a man who was ordered to pay ¥42 million in damages to the family of an elementary school teacher he murdered in 1978.

The man killed the 29-year-old teacher in August at a school in Adachi Ward, Tokyo, and buried her body beneath his house. He turned himself in to police in August 2004, after the 15-year statute of limitations for murder in place at the time had expired.

While this allowed the man to avoid prison over criminal charges, the courts ruled the family still had a civil case even though the 20-year statute of limitations had expired by the time they sued in 2005, because the lack of a body technically prevented them from suing in the first place.

“It would be very much counter to justice and fairness if the perpetrator is released from the obligation to pay compensation, given that he allowed the bereaved family to remain unaware of the victim’s death,” ruled Kohei Nasu, presiding justice at the top court’s Third Petty Bench.

The ruling finalized the Tokyo High Court’s decision in January last year, which concluded: “The bereaved family did not know about the victim’s death and could not exercise their right (to sue at the time), and it therefore runs sharply against the principle of justice and fairness if the perpetrator is able to evade the obligation to compensate them simply through the lapsing of 20 years.”

In September 2006, the Tokyo District Court ordered the man to pay ¥3.3 million to the bereaved family for depriving them of their right to mourn the victim, but turned down its demand for compensation for the murder on the grounds the statute of limitations had expired.

The family also sought redress from Adachi Ward, which agreed to pay ¥25 million in an amicable settlement.

Suspect charged

KYOTO (Kyodo) Prosecutors indicted a 60-year-old man Tuesday in the murder of a 15-year-old girl in Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture, last May.

Katsumi Naka, who lived near the forest where the girl was found dead, was charged with killing Miho Kosugi, a first-year high school student, in the early hours of May 7, 2008, by beating her head with a blunt object, the indictment said.

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