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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 November, 2003, 13:49 GMT
Lucie's family faces suspected killer
Lucie Blackman
Lucie Blackman went missing in Japan in July 2000
The father and sister of a British woman whose dismembered body was found in a cave in Japan, have come face-to-face for the first time with the man accused of killing her.

Japanese property developer Joji Obara denies any involvement in the death of Lucie Blackman, 21, from Kent.

Ms Blackman, from Sevenoaks, was working as a barmaid in Tokyo when she disappeared three years ago.

Her body was found in a cave 30 miles from Tokyo, in the southwest of Japan, months later.

Mr Obara, 50, is accused of abduction, fatal assault or rape resulting in death, and the disposal of Ms Blackman's body.

We'd like to come back and witness the entire event and see it through to the end
Tim Blackman, father
He has faced trial for other offences and proceedings have been ongoing for some time.

Ms Blackman's father and sister, Tim and Sophie Blackman, from the Isle of Wight, were in court in Tokyo for the first time on Thursday.

They heard evidence relating to Ms Blackman's final movements.

They are in Japan for the first time since they took her body back to the UK for burial early in 2001.

Year-long trial

Mr Blackman spent thousands of pounds on his own investigation into his daughter's disappearance.

It is thought the trial could last up to a year and Mr Blackman said he and his family were prepared to be patient.

He said: "There have been previous hearings for other offences first so it's been playing on our minds, coming back for this particular trip.

"The climax has really been this afternoon, coming into this court and seeing Joji Obara.

"I was expecting sort of a nervous reaction, but I think we have become so involved in understanding the judicial system.

'Our tails are up'

"The difficulty we expected to feel, I think it faded very quickly within the operation of the court.

"It was very strictly run, and it was very interesting.

"It is a real relief to have made this step, coming into the judicial system and seeing how the trial goes.

"It has been a long time and that has been valuable time for us to understand losing Lucie and get our strength back from the ordeal of the eight months of looking for her.

"After this trip we've got our tails up and we'd like to come back and witness the entire event and see it through to the end."

Mr Obara denies all the charges against him and the trial continues.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Jonathan Head
"Tim Blackman got the chance to see the man believed to have killed his daughter"



SEE ALSO:
Father flies out for Lucie trial
21 Nov 03  |  Hampshire/Dorset
Key dates in Lucie investigation
06 Apr 01  |  Asia-Pacific
Man jailed over Lucie fraud
18 Jul 03  |  London
'I feared for Lucie' says mother
08 Oct 02  |  England
Businessman denies Blackman killing
04 Jul 01  |  Asia-Pacific



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