Prosecutors mulling child porn charges against defendant in stalking-murder case

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Prosecutors mulling child porn charges against defendant in stalking-murder caseECPAT/STOP Japan

Prosecutors are looking into charges of child pornography law violations for Charles Thomas Ikenaga, accused of stalking and murdering his ex-girlfriend in October 2013, for circulating photos of the victim on the Internet, the Mainichi has learned.

So-called “revenge porn” was identified as a serious social problem in Japan due to the images of the 18-year-old murder victim posted to the Internet by Ikenaga, now 23. However, the Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office forewent laying child pornography charges at the time as her bereaved family did not wish to see the incident dissected in a court of law.

Ikenaga pleaded guilty to the murder in July last year, and he was sentenced to 22 years in prison at his first hearing in a lay judge court the following month. The sentencing decision heavily emphasized the Internet images, declaring, “It is extremely difficult to completely erase photos from the Internet, and much damage was done to the victim’s honor.”

The Tokyo High Court, however, returned Ikenaga’s case to the district court in February this year, ruling that “there are serious suspicions that, in practical terms, the lower court imposed punishment on the defendant for circulating images of the victim on the Internet, for which he was not indicted.” Observers at the time said it was likely Ikenaga would receive a lighter sentence in his second trial.

Prosecutors, however, are apparently using this opportunity to reconsider indicting the defendant on child porn charges, and are preparing to accept a criminal complaint over the Internet images from the victim’s family. Applying new charges after a defendant’s case is returned to a lower court and then trying that defendant on the new charges is an extremely unusual practice.

According to the decision handed down in Ikenaga’s first and second hearings, the defendant broke into the victim’s house in the city of Mitaka, Tokyo, and waited to ambush her for more than six hours. He then stabbed the victim to death. After the killing, Ikenaga allegedly posted photos of the victim online for anyone to see.

The incident sparked calls for controls on revenge porn, leading to the passage in November last year of an anti-revenge porn law. Under the law, posting online sexual images one took without the consent of the subject is punishable by up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 500,000 yen.

July 17, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)

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