The family of a nine-year-old Vietnamese girl who was found dead in an alleged murder in Japan last year is now calling for public support to bring the prime suspect to trial.
Vietnamese national Le Thi Nhat Linh, 9, had been missing for two days before her body was found on March 26, 2017 near a drainage ditch in a field in Abiko, a city in Japan’s Chiba Prefecture, according to The Japan Times.
The third-grader was discovered naked by a man out fishing in the nearby Tone River, the Japanese daily cited police as saying. None of the victim’s clothes or belongings were found in the vicinity of her body.
Police later identified local resident Yasumasa Shibuya, 46, as a prime suspect in Linh’s death after discovering her DNA and hair in his car.
Shibuya was the former head of the parents’ association at Linh’s primary school.
The man was indicted in May 2017 by Japanese prosecutors for allegedly kidnapping, molesting, murdering, and abandoning Linh, The Japan Times reported.
Ten months after the indictment, prosecutors have yet to bring the case to court, citing Shibuya’s refusal to admit to the allegations, according to Linh’s father Le Quang Hao.
Photos of Hao standing on the streets of Japan carrying a sign appealing for public support for a trial have gone viral in Vietnam since being posted earlier this week.
|A petition provided by Linh’s family.|
According to the grieving father, Japanese lawyers say 50,000 signatures from both Vietnamese and Japanese nationals are needed to bring the case to the attention of Japanese prosecutors.
Over 30,000 signatures had been collected by the girl’s family. The remaining 20,000 are needed by February 26, according to Nguyen Thi Nguyen, the victim’s mother.
Social media users in Vietnam have since begun a campaign calling for a collection of signatures to be mailed to Linh’s family in Japan.
Japan’s legal system places huge emphasis on confessions, which is considered the “king of evidence," as admitting guilt is seen as the first step toward rehabilitation, according to The Economist.
In 2014, confessions underpinned 89 percent of criminal prosecutions in Japan, with 99.8 percent of those confessions ending in conviction, according to the UK-based weekly newspaper.
Pretrial investigations can last anywhere from a few months to over a year in high-profile cases where the suspects retain their right to silence and refuse to confess.