A Japanese court on Friday ordered a man currently appealing his life sentence for the 2017 murder of a 9-year-old Vietnamese girl to pay a total of 70 million yen ($634,000) in damages to her parents.
The parents of Le Thi Nhat Linh had filed the lawsuit at the Tokyo District Court against Yasumasa Shibuya, the 50-year-old former head of a parents group at Mutsumi Daini Elementary School in Matsudo near Tokyo, over the murder of their daughter, who was a third-grader at the school.
Presiding Judge Tsuyoshi Momosaki ruled that Shibuya committed the crime and said, "We can only imagine the sorrow of having (a child's) life cut short at the young age of nine."
"The mental anguish (of her parents), who had looked forward to seeing her grow up and watched over her warmly, is immeasurable," he added.
The girl's father, Le Anh Hao, 39, said following the ruling, "while no amount of money will bring Linh back, we have to make sure (Shibuya) takes responsibility according to the law."
According to the high court ruling in the criminal trial, Shibuya abducted Linh while she was on her way to school on March 24, 2017. He then went on to sexually assault and strangle her before abandoning her body near a drainage ditch in the city of Abiko, Chiba Prefecture, two days later.
The Chiba District Court in July 2018 sentenced Shibuya, who pleaded not guilty, to life imprisonment. The Tokyo High Court upheld the ruling in March this year, dismissing appeals by prosecutors and the defense team.
The defense team had asked that the sentence be quashed and Shibuya acquitted, while the prosecution had sought the death penalty. Following the dismissal, prosecutors said they would not continue seeking the death penalty.