National / Crime & Legal

Prosecutors seek death penalty for alleged killer of Vietnamese girl in Chiba

Kyodo

Prosecutors on Monday demanded the death penalty for the former parents’ association chief accused of murdering a 9-year-old Vietnamese girl in Chiba Prefecture last year.

Yasumasa Shibuya, 47, committed a “cold-blooded, heinous and cruel” crime in abducting, sexually assaulting and strangling Le Thi Nhat Linh, prosecutors said at the hearing at the Chiba District Court.

Shibuya, a neighbor of the girl, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

According to the indictment, Shibuya bundled Linh into his car in Matsudo on the morning of March 24, 2017, before sexually assaulting and killing her in the vehicle and abandoning her body near a drainage ditch in nearby Abiko.

“The defendant shows no sign of remorse. The suffering of Linh, who was killed in a foreign country, is beyond imagination,” prosecutors said.

The crime was committed out of “extreme selfishness” and Shibuya deserves particularly serious blame given his position at the time as head of the parents’ group, they said.

Shibuya denies involvement in the girl’s death and says the prosecutors’ claims are fictitious and fabricated. At Monday’s hearing, Shibuya repeated that position, saying, “I’m innocent and not guilty.”

“I wish for a fair judgment for the sake of my two children, who are waiting for me and believe in me,” he said.

The court is scheduled to hand down a ruling on the case on July 6.

The focal point of the case is DNA evidence. Prosecutors say blood and saliva matching the girl’s DNA was found in Shibuya’s vehicle and that Shibuya’s DNA was found on her body.

But defense lawyers said the DNA samples may have been deliberately placed there by the investigators.

The prosecutors claimed the DNA results were credible because blood was detected in several places inside Shibuya’s vehicle, indicating the blood was left during the crime.

Although Shibuya has said he was preparing to go fishing on the day when Linh disappeared, the prosecutors said his statement is not trustworthy because it was contradicted by other people.

Le Anh Hao, the girl’s 35-year-old father, requested the death penalty for Shibuya at a court hearing last week.

Linh, who was in her third year at the elementary school, was on her way to attend a ceremony marking the end of the school year when she was abducted.