Rearrest of suspect in Furlong inquiry
JAPANESE POLICE have rearrested the main suspect in the death of Irish exchange student Nicola Furlong on murder charges.
The 19-year-old American man, who cannot be named because he is a minor under Japanese law, admits strangling the Irishwoman but denies intent to kill, according to the police.
He was being held on sexual assault charges since her death in an upmarket Tokyo hotel on May 24th. A second American, James Blackston (23), is also being held but is no longer a suspect in the murder.
Japanese police often use holding charges to keep suspects in custody for serious crimes while conducting investigations. They believe that Ms Furlong (21) was sexually assaulted before being murdered.
They say security camera footage from the Keio Plaza Hotel shows the suspect, who is described as a musician, arriving at about 1am, then borrowing a hotel wheelchair and using it to carry the unconscious Irishwoman to his room.
The footage reportedly confirms that nobody else entered the room until hotel staff went to check on Ms Furlong a few hours later.
She was taken to hospital but later declared dead.
Tokyo prosecutors are likely to argue that the American man intended to sexually assault the Irishwoman and when she resisted he killed her.
The two men approached Ms Furlong and her Irish friend after they had attended a Tokyo rap concert on May 23rd.
Police have not released the results of toxicology reports but they are believed to be still working on the theory that the women’s drinks were spiked at a bar in Shibuya, central Tokyo.
Ms Furlong’s father Andrew was interviewed by police in Japan last weekend concerning her death.
According to family relative Denis Corrigan, Mr Furlong requested that the death penalty not be applied.
Japan retains the death penalty but its courts almost invariably reserve it for cases of multiple murder.
Mr Furlong reportedly had said: “He [the suspect] has family too.”
Japanese prosecutors have one of the world’s highest conviction rates in criminal cases – more than 99 per cent – but the system relies heavily on confessions.
Ms Furlong’s alleged killer is likely to deny the murder charges in court.