Report: Japanese man charged in slaying of Briton

AP News
Posted: Dec 23, 2009 11:49 PM

Japanese prosecutors filed murder and rape charges against the suspect in the slaying of a British language teacher whose body was found in a sand-filled bathtub more than two years ago, local media reports said Thursday.

Prosecutors refused to confirm the reports of the charges.

Lindsay Ann Hawker, 22, was found dead in March 2007 on the balcony of an apartment in Chiba, east of Tokyo. She was an English teacher at a private language school and the apartment belonged to one of her students, Tatsuya Ichihashi.

Police arrested Ichihashi, 30, last month, and charged him with abandonment of a body.

According to local media reports Thursday, Ichihashi's lawyers are preparing a defense that the killing wasn't premeditated.

Ichihashi has said he assaulted Hawker, but is denying he intended to kill her, Kyodo News reported, quoting an unidentified lawyer on the defense team.

Hawker began shouting she wanted to go home, and Ichihashi in trying to silence her choked her, according to Kyodo.

Yoshinori Yamada, deputy prosecutor, was quoted by Kyodo as saying he thought the rape and murder were linked, and the intent to kill was there.

Hawker's parents welcomed the news that charges were filed against Ichihashi, who had been a fugitive for more than two years.

"We have supported the Japanese police investigation throughout and are relieved that Tatsuya Ichihashi has now been charged," Bill and Julia Hawker said in a statement Wednesday from Britain.

Ichihashi will face a jury trial, under a system that started this year in Japan.