Man pleads not guilty to 2017 murder of 9-yr-old Vietnamese girl in Japan

A man indicted for murdering a 9-year-old Vietnamese girl in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo last year pleaded not guilty at his first hearing on Monday.

In the trial at the Chiba District Court, Yasumasa Shibuya, 47, denied killing Le Thi Nhat Linh, saying, “All (the allegations) are wrong. I am not involved in the case. I am innocent and plead not guilty.”

According to the indictment, Shibuya snatched Linh by car on the morning of March 24 and sexually assaulted her before strangling her and abandoning her body near a drainage ditch in the Chiba city of Abiko.

(Le Thi Nhat Linh’s father Le Anh Hao arrives at Chiba District Court)

Prosecutors claimed Shibuya was the assailant, citing blood and saliva taken from Shibuya’s minivehicle and camper van, which matched the victim’s DNA.

But the defense counsel argued the blood and saliva may have been left before the murder as Linh had been in the defendant’s cars.

Linh, a third grader in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, was on her way to school to attend a ceremony marking the end of the academic year. Shibuya was the head of the parents’ association at the girl’s elementary school at the time of the murder.

Shibuya had kept his silence or refused to speak about the allegations, which also included sexual assault, abduction and abandoning of her body, during the investigations, according to investigative sources.

The trial is set to conclude after a total of 10 hearings through June 18. The date of ruling will be announced later.

Related coverage:

Slain Vietnamese girl’s dad hopes similar tragedy never happens

7-year-old girl likely killed hours before being hit by train

Inmate arrested for 2004 murder of 9-year-old girl in Japan

All – Kyodo News+

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