Tokyo barman denies link to missing hostess case

Click to follow
The Independent Online

In the latest bizarre twist in the case of Lucie Blackman, the English bar hostess who went missing in Tokyo, a man alleged to have inducted her into a religious cult has been revealedas a real person, employed in the nightclub district where she worked, rather than a made-up character, as first thought.

In the latest bizarre twist in the case of Lucie Blackman, the English bar hostess who went missing in Tokyo, a man alleged to have inducted her into a religious cult has been revealedas a real person, employed in the nightclub district where she worked, rather than a made-up character, as first thought.

The day after Ms Blackman's disappearance, her best friend received a telephone call from a man calling himself Akira Takagi, who claimed that she was undergoing "training" with a religious group and would not be seen again. At the time, the call was assumed to have been a hoax, intended to throw investigators off the trail. But it turns out that there is at least one Akira Takagi, working as a barman in the Tokyo district of Roppongi.

"Frankly, my behaviour is not always the best, and that's why somebody came up with the idea of using my name," Mr Takagi, who is described as being in his fifties, told the Japanese news agency Kyodo.

Japanese television news programmes have also broadcast interviews with another man named Akira Takagi, said to be a former bank employee turned translator. He also denies any connection with Ms Blackman, who disappeared on 1 July after going for a seaside drive with a man she had met at the bar where she worked.

The existence of the various Takagis is symptomatic of the confusion surrounding the case, which appeared to be reaching a conclusion a week ago when police arrested Joji Ohara, a property owner aged 48. Mr Ohara, who is said tobe denying the accusations against him, has been held by Tokyo police since Friday, for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting a 23-year-old Canadian four years ago.

He is suspected of having drugged and raped as many as 20 women, Japanese as well as Western, at a seaside flat in the town of Zushi. From his various properties, in Tokyo and along the coast, police have recovered 2,000 individual items, including home-made videos of apparent rapes and sleeping drugs. Mobile phones he is suspected of having used as gifts to lure his victims into his apartment have also been seized.

More sinisterly, they have also found blonde hairs superficially resembling those of Ms Blackman. Japanese media have reported the existence of a motorboat hastily bought by Mr Ohara shortly before his arrest, provoking speculation that he may have murdered her and disposed of her body in the sea. But, at least in their leaks to Japanese journalists, thepolice do not appear to have established any positive connection linking him with Ms Blackman's disappearance.

Comments