No 'appeal' for Vietnamese girl murder case

NHK has learned that Tokyo prosecutors have decided not to ask the supreme court to review a case involving a 9-year-old Vietnamese girl, who was killed in Chiba Prefecture in 2017. This eliminates the possibility that the defendant will receive a death sentence.

The bereaved family members of Le Thi Nhat Linh told NHK about the prosecutors' decision.

The 49-year-old defendant, Shibuya Yasumasa, was convicted of killing the elementary school girl. At the time that the attack occurred, he was serving as the head of a parental group at the child's school.

Prosecutors demanded the death penalty for Shibuya. The defendant pleaded not guilty.
The Tokyo High Court upheld his life sentence in March. The presiding judge said there was "reasonable doubt" that the crime was premeditated.

A lawyer for the girl's family said the Tokyo prosecutors indicated that they could not find any constitutional violations, or other reasons, upon which to base an appeal to the supreme court.

Lawyers for the defendant have already filed their appeal at the supreme court. A legal provision stipulates that a defendant cannot receive a heavier sentence than the one handed down by the high court, if prosecutors do not appeal. This means that the defendant cannot be sentenced to death.

The victim's father, Le Anh Hao, said he now has no idea what he can do for his daughter. He added that the four years he has spent fighting in the courts have become meaningless.