The parents of a Vietnamese girl who was murdered in Japan last year are appealing for public support as they attempt to have the man accused of killing their daughter brought to trial.
“We have collected and submitted 31,000 signatures to Japanese prosecutors, and we are looking for more,” said Nguyen Thi Nguyen, the victim's mother who lives in Chiba, more than an hour to the east of Tokyo.
“The suspect claimed he was not guilty and then insisted on his right to remain silent. No trial has been held,” she said.
Nguyen said she hopes that public pressure will push the case forward and prompt prosecutors to call for the death penalty.
Her husband has not returned to work since the shocking incident in March last year, and has instead spent days collecting signatures at train stations across Japan.
The family said they have received support from the Japanese public as well as people from other countries
They have also been traveling back and forth to Vietnam.
Responding to the couples’ plea online, people in Vietnam have also started collecting signatures and sending them to their home in the northern city of Hai Phong.
Their daughter, a third-year elementary school student, went missing after she left home for school in Matsudo City on March 24. Her body was discovered two days later in the grass near a drainage canal.
Japanese police arrested a 46-year-old male neighbor of the girl in April after DNA samples obtained from the crime scene were found to match his.
Autopsy results suggested she had been sexually abused and strangled.
Yasumasa Shibuya, the suspect, was indicted for murder in May, but prosecutors have not said whether he has admitted to other allegations of kidnapping, molesting and abandoning the body of the girl.
The victim’s family said he is likely to escape death in Japan unless he is also convicted of other crimes that make his offense more "serious".
“We have been going through our most painful days and we do not want anyone else to have to suffer the loss of a child due to rape or murder,” Nguyen said.
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