• Kyodo


The lawyer for the U.S. civilian base worker indicted for raping and murdering a 20-year-old woman in Okinawa is demanding that the trial be moved to Tokyo, saying it is unlikely he can get a fair trial in the southern prefecture.

The lay judge trial of Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, 32, is scheduled to take place in the Naha District Court.

Shinzato’s lawyer, Toshimitsu Takaesu, told a news conference Monday that the former U.S. Marine wants his trial transferred to the Tokyo District Court.

A petition they submitted to the Naha court said Okinawa residents’ feelings “have been entrenched by animosity” and referred to the resolutions passed by the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly and several municipal assemblies protesting the crimes committed by Shinzato.

Shinzato has confessed to stabbing and strangling Rina Shimabukuro. The petition says the lay judges, who will be selected from the Okinawa population, may be influenced by popular opinion.

The case has sparked public outrage in Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, prompting tens of thousands of residents to attend a massive rally last month.

Takaesu also said he will seek a psychiatric examination of Shinzato, as he may have a psychiatric problem judging from the content of the crime.

According to the indictment, Shinzato, intending to rape Shimabukuro, struck her with a bar on a road in Uruma in central Okinawa, then strangled and stabbed her with a knife around 10 p.m. April 28.

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