Tokyo High Court overrules lower court regarding murder of Lucie Blackman: Obara Joji now guilty of “dismemberment and abandonment of a body”
Posted by debito on December 17th, 2008
Hi Blog. Serial rapist and sexual predator Obara Joji yesterday had his “innocent on the grounds of lack of evidence” lower court decision overturned by the Tokyo High Court, with Lucie Blackman’s rape and murder now added to his long list of crimes against women. A hair was split between actual murder and just doing nasty things to her corpse, but for people outraged about the rather odd consideration of evidence in this case (which I in the past have indicated might have something to do with a J crime against a NJ, as opposed to the opposite), this is a victory of sorts. Given that Obara got away with a heckuva lot before he was finally nailed (including some pretty hapless police investigation), I wonder if the outcome of his cases will be much of a deterrent to other sociopathic predators out there. Anyway, this verdict is better than upholding the previous one, of course. Two articles follow. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
Guilty verdict ends Blackman family’s fight for justice
By David McNeill in Tokyo
The Independent. Wednesday, 17 December 2008
A Japanese businessman has been convicted of abducting Lucie Blackman and mutilating her body, ending an eight-year campaign by her family.
The millionaire property developer Joji Obara was cleared last year of raping and killing the 21-year-old British bar hostess in Japan in 2000. Yesterday the High Court in Tokyo agreed that there was insufficient evidence to convict him on these charges but ruled that Obara dismembered and abandoned her body.
Ms Blackman’s family said they were “delighted” by the higher court’s judgment but added that they were left with a bitter taste in the mouth after their long fight for justice through Japan’s drawn-out legal system.
Her mother, Jane Steare, sat weeping yards from Obara in court as the verdict was read out, an experience she called “very, very harrowing”. It was her first sighting of the man who used a chainsaw to mutilate her daughter’s body, which he then dumped in a cave south-west of Tokyo. On a previous court appearance, Obara had failed to show up.
After the verdict, she said: “At last we have two guilty verdicts and a life sentence for the crimes Obara committed against my wonderful Lucie. He’s got a life sentence and I think justice has been done.”
Her father, Tim Blackman, who lives on the Isle of Wight, said: “Although the result is not the absolute decision we had hoped for, it is still an obvious recognition of guilt. After such a long time it is clear that it was necessary for this protracted process to get any degree of result and some form of justice for Lucie, but it still leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.”
Ms Blackman’s sister, Sophie, 26, said: “It is not important exactly what he was charged with – what matters is that he is finally taking responsibility after all this time. I’m delighted.”
Ms Blackman, a former flight attendant, went to Japan in May 2000 and found a job as a hostess at a Tokyo nightclub. She vanished in July that year after telephoning her flatmate to say she was going out for the afternoon with a man. Her remains were found in a cave near Obara’s beachside condominium in February 2001 following an extensive search.
In April last year Tokyo District Court acquitted Obara of involvement in Ms Blackman’s death. But he was ordered to spend life in prison for a string of rapes and causing the death of an Australian woman. Tokyo High Court also upheld this sentence yesterday. Judge Hiroshi Kadono held that Obara’s actions left no room for leniency and said: “His action of damaging and abandoning her body was ruthless and did not even give the slightest consideration to her dignity.”
Police found hundreds of home-made videos in the businessman’s flat, showing him having sex with unconscious women, many of whom he met while cruising the Tokyo entertainment district where Ms Blackman worked.
However, although strong circumstantial evidence, including proof that he bought the chainsaw, apparently linked him to the death of the former air stewardess, there was no video recording of her rape.
The Japan Times, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008
High court: Obara buried Blackman
Serial rapist’s life term is upheld; abduction added to convictions
By SETSUKO KAMIYA Staff writer
The Tokyo High Court on Tuesday sentenced serial rapist Joji Obara to life in prison for kidnapping Briton Lucie Blackman and mutilating her corpse eight years ago, after a lower court acquitted him of the charges.
The high court also upheld the Tokyo District Court’s life sentence for Obara, 56, for nine other rape cases, including that of an Australian woman who died from an overdose of sleeping drugs Obara slipped her before the assault.
Dressed in a dark suit and brown-framed glasses, Obara nervously wiped his face with a blue handkerchief before the judge read out the 1 1/2-hour decision. As the ruling was being announced, Obara stared at the floor and remained motionless.
Obara was charged with six cases of rape, two cases of rape resulting in bodily injury, and rape resulting in the death of Australian hostess Carita Ridgway.
In the Blackman case, he was charged with kidnapping with intent to rape, attempted rape, and damaging and disposing of a body. He was not charged with murder or manslaughter, however, due to lack of evidence.
Prosecutors demanded a life term.
Presiding Judge Hiroshi Kadono said that while the court couldn’t find direct evidence that Obara raped Blackman, there was enough circumstantial evidence to conclude he abducted the 21-year-old from her residence in Shibuya Ward with the intention of drugging and raping her in July 2000.
The court also said that there was enough evidence to believe that Blackman died for some reason after Obara drugged her in his condominium in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture, and that he dismembered her with a chain saw and buried her body parts in a cave near another condo he owned on the Miura coastline.
But the court said it was unable to determine exactly where Obara dismembered her corpse, except that it was in the vicinity of his condo.
The court also rejected Obara’s appeal in the Ridgway case and determined her death was caused by the chloroform Obara forced her to inhale, which caused her to die from fulminant hepatitis in 1992.
Afterward, Ridgway’s family issued a statement saying they welcomed the ruling.
“It is hoped that this finally brings an end to a process that began over eight years ago. The process has been prolonged because Obara refused to accept his guilt and has had access to significant financial resources which he used to fund his attempts to escape justice,” they said.
In April 2007, the Tokyo District Court sentenced Obara to life in prison for a string of nine rapes between 1992 and 2000, including Ridgway’s.
But the court acquitted him of all charges in the Blackman case, ruling that the circumstantial evidence linking him to her dismemberment and burial was not convincing enough to link him directly to her death.
Although the evidence included some 200 videotapes showing Obara engaging in sexual acts with his victims, Blackman was not among them, and the court said other evidence could not prove Obara was involved in any way with Blackman.
During appeal sessions that began in March, prosecutors said there was sufficient evidence showing Obara was involved in the Briton’s death.
Blackman’s dismembered corpse was found in February 2001 in a Miura cave near one of his condos. The prosecution argued that Obara raped her at his Zushi condo several kilometers away.
Prosecutors said he bought a chain saw shortly after the ex-British Airways flight attendant vanished in July 2000.