英国人女性殺害 容疑者を追い詰めた民間情報

Tips from citizens closed net on Ichihashi
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 13, 2009)
英国人女性殺害 容疑者を追い詰めた民間情報(11月13日付・読売社説)

Tatsuya Ichihashi, the man wanted on suspicion of abandoning the body of a British woman in Chiba Prefecture in 2007, has finally been arrested.

The Chiba prefectural police intend to question Ichihashi on suspicion that he also murdered English-language teacher Lindsay Hawker. The police must leave no stone unturned as they obtain a detailed account of Ichihashi's life as a fugitive on the run for about two years and seven months.

Hawker's body was found on the balcony of Ichihashi's apartment in Ichikawa. Ichihashi fled the scene just before police officers, who were at his apartment to question him, found her body.

We wonder if the police investigation was conducted properly. Hard questions need to be asked about why it took so long until the suspect was finally brought into custody. This will include examining whether the initial investigations were appropriate, among other matters.

The incident took place in Chiba Prefecture. After making his escape, Ichihashi reportedly moved around cities including Fukuoka, Osaka and Nagoya. This suggests police forces across the nation must work more closely together on serious cases.


Surgeons not free from blame

Ichihashi altered his appearance by undergoing several plastic surgeries. Police only became aware of this after they were tipped off by a cosmetic surgery clinic in Nagoya that had performed rhinoplasty on him late last month. We applaud the clinic for coming forward.

Ichihashi used an alias when he registered for the nose job. When he visited the clinic, his face reportedly showed traces of having undergone a number of plastic surgeries. Ichihashi's appearance was said to be already significantly different from that in a picture released by police when they put him on the wanted list.

Tidbits of information began trickling in from the public after the police released a photo of Ichihashi taken at the clinic. Details emerged from staff at a construction company at which Ichihashi worked as a live-in employee. The police finally swooped on Ichihashi after a tip from a ferry company employee.

Many people must be wondering when and where Ichihashi had the operations that transformed his facial features. If any plastic surgeon was aware that he or she put the wanted man under the knife, it would without a shadow of doubt be an obstruction of a criminal investigation. Such an act could be considered harboring or enabling the escape of a perpetrator in violation of the Penal Code.

About 1,400 suspects are on the police wanted list. Police and medical institutions should take measures to prevent these suspects from undergoing plastic surgery in an attempt to continue evading the long arm of the law.


Rewards can play useful role

The National Police Agency offered a reward in Ichihashi's case. The agency is considering paying a reward to the person or people who provided key information that led to Ichihashi's arrest. Any such payments would be the first since the bounty system was introduced in April 2007.

It is a given that the investigative abilities of police should be in the forefront of crime investigations. But the cooperation of the public is an essential tool when seeking the arrest of a suspect, regardless of whether a reward is on offer.

Female university students in Chiba and Shimane prefectures recently have been brutally slain. Strings of suspicious deaths have been uncovered in the Tokyo metropolitan area and in Tottori Prefecture.

Police must constantly think about how and when leads they have gleaned in their investigations should be made public so they can unearth more information from citizens that leads to the resolution of criminal cases.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 13, 2009)
(2009年11月13日00時55分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-11-13 07:29 | 英字新聞

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