Japanese student charged with Lindsay's Hawker's murder

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The Independent Online

A Japanese English student was charged today with the rape and murder of British teacher Lindsay Hawker.

Tatsuya Ichihashi, 30, was accused of the offences by police in Japan who arrested him last month after more than two-and-a-half years on the run.



The victim's father Bill said his family are "relieved" the prime suspect will now face trial.









Ichihashi was arrested at a ferry port in Osaka, southern Japan, on suspicion of killing the 22-year-old.

It is thought he might have been attempting to board a ferry to Okinawa, a chain of islands at the southern tip of Japan.



He was caught after a surgeon came forward with information about Ichihashi, who is believed to have had surgery to change his appearance.



Miss Hawker, a Leeds University graduate, was last seen alive on March 25 2007 with Ichihashi.



She was working in Japan to pursue her dream of teaching English. It is thought she met Ichihashi after offering to give him an English lesson.



The battered and bound body of the young teacher was found buried naked in a sand-filled bathtub at Ichihashi's flat in Tokyo.



In a statement, Miss Hawker's parents Bill and Julia Hawker, of Brandon, near Coventry, said they are relieved he has been charged.



They said: "The Hawker family are relieved that Ichihashi was captured on November 10.



"Our fight for justice for our daughter Lindsay was directed at the capture of Tatsuya Ichihashi. It was a long two years and seven months battle.



"The Japanese police and justice system will now deal with him, in line with Japanese law.



"Bill has just returned from Japan, heartened by the fact that the authorities are doing all they can to bring these charges and make him stand trial.



"We have supported the Japanese police investigation throughout and are relieved that Tatsuya Ichihashi has now been charged."



Speaking last month, Mr Hawker said Ichihashi showed no remorse and should be given the maximum available penalty if he is found guilty.



Japan retains a death penalty system which has been widely criticised for being secretive and inhumane.



But executions are now unlikely to be carried out after an outspoken opponent of capital punishment was appointed as justice minister.

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