Father of murdered student travels to Tokyo

 

THE FATHER of Irish exchange student Nicola Furlong has met Japanese police officers investigating her death.

Andrew Furlong arrived in Tokyo yesterday morning with another family member, Denis Corrigan.

Police suspect Ms Furlong (21) was sexually assaulted then strangled in a Tokyo hotel on May 24th.

Two American men are in custody in Tokyo on assault charges against the DCU student and her Irish friend, who flew home last week. Police have named one of the suspects as James Blackston (23). The second man, who is 19, cannot be named because he is a minor under Japanese law.

The lawyer representing Mr Blackston yesterday said his client was innocent and was not in the same room as Ms Furlong when she died.

Defence attorney Tsutomu Nakamura said his client last saw Ms Furlong just before the younger suspect took her back to his room at the Keio Plaza Hotel in the early hours of May 24th.

“Most important is that my client never went to the other man’s room. So he has no idea what happened there,” Mr Nakamura said.

He added that he expected his client to be released on June 15th because there was “no evidence” linking him to Ms Furlong’s death.

Japanese police can detain suspects for up to 20 days while they interrogate them and gather evidence. The two men are reportedly being held at separate detention centres in Tokyo police stations. A murder charge is expected against at least one of the men within the next eight days.

Ms Furlong’s father is believed to have quizzed the police on the details of the arrests, which have mostly been kept sealed.

During their four-day stay in Japan, he and Mr Corrigan will travel to Takasaki City University of Economics, where Ms Furlong was studying, to pick up her belongings.

Mr Furlong told reporters at Dublin airport, before flying to Tokyo, that the trip would be “the toughest of my life. I was never meant to go on this journey. It is a nightmare,” he said.