BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Thursday, 14 December, 2000, 08:23 GMT
Japanese executive denies Lucie link
Lucie Blackman's sister, Sophie
Lucie Blackman's sister, Sophie, appeals for help
A Japanese executive suspected of involvement in the case of the missing British bar hostess, Lucie Blackman, has appeared in court on charges of drugging and raping two women.

The defendant, Joji Obara, pleaded not guilty and said the women, a Canadian and a Briton, had agreed to have sex with him.

Japanese women outside court
Hundreds of women queued to get a seat for the hearing
Mr Obara had earlier denied any involvement in Ms Blackman's disappearance, but admitted having drinks with her at the bar where she worked.

His lawyer accused investigators of wrongly trying to link Mr Obara with the disappearance.

Ms Blackman, 22, went missing on 1 July after saying she was going on a day trip with an unidentified customer from the Tokyo bar where she worked.

A man later rang a friend of Ms Blackman's to say she had joined a cult and would not be returning. Reports in Japan say the call was traced to the suspect's mobile phone.

Laced drinks

But, so far, there has been scant evidence of Mr Obara's involvement in the Blackman case.

The wealthy property developer was arrested in October on suspicion of the 1997 rape of a Canadian bar hostess, who has not been identified.

He was later charged with raping one British and two Japanese women.

Lucie Blackman
Lucie Blackman: Missing since July
During the first hearing, which focused on the two foreign women, prosecutors described how the businessman had seduced his alleged victims at his apartment, drugging and then raping them.

Mr Obara denies the charges.

"I have never forced them to have drinks laced with drugs or to inhale drugs," he said.

"I admit having sex with them, but only with their prior consent. I paid to play with them," he told the court.

Videos

Japanese media have reported that a search of Mr Obara's home uncovered hundreds of videos of him having sex with women, many of them foreigners.

But correspondents say police have found no direct connection with Miss Blackman's disappearance.

Her father, Tim Blackman, has made a number of emotional appeals for help from the Japanese public during frequent visits to Tokyo.

More than 30,000 leaflets with Miss Blackman's photograph on have been distributed around Tokyo, and her family has put up a 10,000 reward for information leading to her discovery.

The family also set up a hotline in Tokyo and private investigators from both Britain and Japan have joined the search.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

14 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Lucie's father appeals to hostesses
12 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Man questioned over missing Briton
27 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Lucie suspect on separate rape charge
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories