A Japanese man will spend the rest of his life behind bars for kidnapping, raping and killing a nine-year-old Vietnamese girl in an incident that shocked millions of people in March 2017.
Yasumasa Shibuya, 47, received the sentence at a trial in Japan on Friday, the Japan Times reported.
The murder had horrified and outraged millions of Japanese and Vietnamese people, and the bereaved parents had launched a signature campaign calling for Shibuya to be sentenced to death.
Shibuya has persistently denied involvement in the death of the Vietnamese girl Le Thi Nhat Linh, who went missing after leaving home for school in Matsudo City, an hour northeast of Tokyo. Her body was discovered two days later.
During the trial, prosecutors had proposed the death penalty for the man who was the girl’s neighbor and head of the parents’ association at the school she went to.
According to the indictment, Shibuya kidnapped Linh on the morning of March 24, 2017 in his car. He molested the third grader, strangled her to death and left her naked body near a drainage ditch in Abiko, also in Chiba Prefecture.
“There were no mistakes in the DNA verification,” Judge Toshiro Nohara said at the hearing on Friday.
Blood and saliva matching Linh’s DNA was found in Shibuya’s car, indicating that he was the culprit, the judge said.
Linh’s parents, who live and work in Japan, had gathered tens of thousands of signatures from citizens of both countries, hoping that public pressure would urge prosecutors to call for Shibuya to be sentenced to death.
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