TOKYO — A court Wednesday upheld the life sentence for a Japanese man who raped and killed a young British teacher and buried her battered body in a sand-filled bathtub in his apartment.
Tokyo High Court rejected the appeal by Tatsuya Ichihashi who claimed his life sentence for the 2007 murder of Lindsay Ann Hawker, a crime that shocked both Japan and Britain, was too harsh.
Ichihashi, 32, admitted raping Hawker, his English teacher, but said he killed the 22-year-old accidentally. His appeal had sought a reduction in the life sentence.
Prosecutors argued that the killing by Ichihashi -- who spent more than two-and-a-half years on the run and underwent plastic surgery to evade capture -- was premeditated and the life term was justified.
As Judge Yoshinobu Iida handed down his decision Ichihashi stood hunched over, facing down.
Iida said the killer "has not displayed sincere regret and remorse". He said the suffering of the victim was "beyond imagination, and her bereaved family has deeply grieved".
The lower court's decision to hand out a life sentence was justified as Ichihashi "continued his life on the run for two years and seven months" and "even after his arrest, he gave false excuses" for his crime.
Ichihashi's claim that Hawker's death was accidental was not credible, the judge said.
When Hawker went missing in 2007, police went to Ichihashi's apartment in Chiba prefecture, near Tokyo, to find her naked body bound at the wrists and ankles in a bathtub filled with sand on the balcony.
An autopsy showed she died of suffocation, and prosecutors said Ichihashi strangled her after the rape.
Ichihashi had previously testified that after raping Hawker, he bound her and spoke to the victim for hours, seeking forgiveness. He said he choked the teacher to death after covering her mouth to stop her from screaming for help but he did not mean to take her life.
Ichihashi fled and went on the run, altering his appearance with plastic surgery and frequently changing jobs before his arrest in November 2009 in the western city of Osaka.
After his arrest, Ichihashi described his life as a fugitive in the book "Taiho Sarerumade -- Kuuhaku no Ninen Nanakagetsu no Kiroku (Until the Arrest -- The Blank Two Years and Seven Months)".
He detailed how he travelled across Japan, from a tiny southern Okinawan island, where he lived off fish and snakes, to Osaka, where he worked on a construction site.
Ichihashi has previously offered to give any royalties from the book to the family of the murdered teacher, or to use it for public good. The Hawker family has declined the offer.
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