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Friday, 11 February, 2000, 13:34 GMT
Japanese kidnapper arrested
Police and Sato
Police escort Sato under a blanket after his arrest
A Japanese man alleged to have abducted a schoolgirl and hidden her in his room for almost a decade in the home he shared with his mother has been arrested.

Nobuyuki Sato, 37, was charged with abducting a minor and battery, police said.
Nobuyuki Sato
Nobuyuki Sato has been examined and found mentally capable

He was taken into police custody after undergoing two weeks of mental checkups to determine whether he was mentally fit to face criminal charges.

Police said that Mr Sato had admitted the "main points of the charges".

Beatings

The nine-year-old schoolgirl was seized in November 1990 and kept in the first floor of the house Mr Sato shared with his mother in Niigata, 250km (160 miles) north-west of Tokyo.

Mr Sato struck fear into the girl, now a 19-year-old woman, with beatings and verbal lashings, police said.

He was detained on 28 January, when his mother, 73, called a doctor after noticing his strange behaviour.

His mother said she had no idea that the girl was being kept in her son's room.

But police say they suspect she had some inkling that the girl was being kept captive but was afraid of her son and his violent outbursts.

No lock

During the time in captivity, the suspect cut the girl's hair, shared his clothes with her and occasionally gave her baths, according to a police investigation.

According to press reports, she lived without a toilet and bathroom, eating instant food or meals cooked by her kidnapper's mother.

For entertainment, the victim reportedly had a radio for eight years, and was only allowed to watch television in the last year of her captivity.

"I was too scared to escape and eventually lost the energy to escape," the woman was quoted as telling police.

In her terror, she reportedly found it impossible to leave even when the man left the home, which was only a few steps away from other houses in the quiet neighbourhood.

The door, reports said, was never locked.

See also:

29 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
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