Arrested man insists he did not kill Lucie Blackman

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The Independent Online

The Japanese man suspected of abducting the British bar hostess Lucie Blackman has issued a bizarre statement in which he admits meeting her but denies involvement in her disappearance.

The Japanese man suspected of abducting the British bar hostess Lucie Blackman has issued a bizarre statement in which he admits meeting her but denies involvement in her disappearance.

Joji Ohara, a 48-year-old estate agent, who has already been charged with the rape of two other Western hostesses, accuses the police of trying to frame him because of international pressure generated by Miss Blackman's disappearance. In the rambling, and sometimes incoherent statement issued through his lawyer, he describes his taste for bought sex with foreign women, his fear of assassination and his hopes for cloning his dead dog.

He claims to have helped a foreign girlfriend to escape from a notorious Japanese murderer who was imprisoned in France for murdering and eating a female student and suggests a "professional gunman" was sent from Britain to Japan to assassinate him.

He also refers to a tabloid magazine report that he had dismembered his dog. "With the improvement of cloning tech- nology, and in the hope of resurrecting my beloved dog, I laid him to rest inside a large freezer," he explains. "I also included roses and some of his favourite treats."

Mr Ohara was arrested a month ago and has been intensively questioned about Miss Blackman, who was working as a hostess in a Roppongi bar when she vanished on 1 July, apparently after a meeting with a male customer. The police have issued no formal statement, but according to the Japanese media, they have uncovered strong evidence that he was a serial rapist who preyed upon western hostesses.

His several homes in and around Tokyo are said to have contained hundreds of videos showing Mr Ohara having sex with young foreign women who had apparently been drugged. Sleeping drugs were also apparently found, with mobile phones he used as gifts to entice his alleged victims.

He admits relationships with foreign hostesses, but insists that they were consensual. "I am being held because I paid money to prostitutes," he says.

Japanese police have come under pressure from visiting members of the Blackman family. Tony Blair and the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, have both raised the case during official visits to Japan.

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