Japan prosecutors seek life over Briton's murder
Japanese prosecutors Tuesday demanded life in jail for a man on trial for the rape and murder of British teacher Lindsay Ann Hawker, whose battered body was found in a sand-filled bathtub.
Tatsuya Ichihashi, 32 -- who spent more than two and a half years on the run after the 2007 crime and had plastic surgery to evade capture -- has admitted raping and killing his English teacher but said he took her life accidentally.
Her father, Bill, last week urged the Chiba district court to show "no mercy" and demanded that Ichihashi be given the death penalty -- a punishment usually reserved in Japan for cases of multiple homicide.
Hawker, from Brandon near Coventry, was 22 years old when her body -- naked and bound at the wrists and ankles with plastic cord -- was found in the sand-filled bathtub on the balcony of Ichihashi's apartment.
The autopsy showed she died of suffocation, and prosecutors believe Ichihashi strangled her after the rape.
Ichihashi testified that after raping her, he bound her and spoke with her for hours, seeking forgiveness. He says she choked to death when he covered her mouth to stop her from screaming for help but that he did not mean to kill her.
After the killing, Ichihashi went on the run, working in temporary jobs between Aomori in Japan's north and Okinawa island in the far south.
He used the money from odd jobs to pay for cosmetic surgery, altering his eyelids and nose and having a facial mole removed in an effort to evade police.
Ichihashi, whose wanted poster was a common sight at police stations and public offices across Japan, was caught in November 2009 after a witness tip-off at a ferry terminal as he tried to catch a boat to Okinawa.
He wrote a book entitled "Until the Arrest" about his life on the run and has offered the proceeds to the Hawker family, an offer they have declined.
Six citizen jurors and three judges are hearing the case and are due to decide the verdict and sentence in a hearing scheduled for July 21.
© 2011 AFP