The trial of a Japanese man accused of killing a 9-year-old Vietnamese girl will start in three months time, a Japanese court said on Monday.
Yasumasa Shibuya, 46, has been charged with murder and abandoning the girl's body, the Chiba District Court said, as cited by Japanese media reports.
Prosecutors allege that Shibuya strangled the third-grader to death and left her body near a drainage ditch after abducting her on the morning of March 24, 2017, the Japan Times reported.
Shibuya has refused to speak since his arrest in April, it said.
Media reports did not mention rape charges, although autopsy results suggested the girl had been sexually abused.
The victim, Le Thi Nhat Linh, went missing after she left home for school in Matsudo City, one hour northeast of Tokyo, on March 24. Her body was discovered two days later. Shibuya was her neighbor and head of the parents' association at her school at the time.
The case had shocked both the Japanese and Vietnamese public.
Linh's parents have been gathering tens of thousands of signatures from both countries, hoping that public pressure will prompt prosecutors to call for Shibuya to be sentenced to death.
In Japan, murder can be punished with death sentence and executions are carried out by hanging. The punishment is usually imposed in cases of multiple murders, though some single murderers have also been hanged when their crime was considered serious.
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