The family of murdered Irish exchange student, Nicola Furlong, faced her alleged killer for the first time on Thursday before a Japanese court.
The 19-year-old American musician is being charged with strangling the 21-year-old student back in May.
Nicola’s father, Andrew, made his second trip to Tokyo to attend the hearing on Thursday along with his wife Angela and their daughter Andrea.
On Friday, the Japanese court recommended a criminal trial for the 19-year-old suspect, which mean he will be tried as an adult and could face life imprisonment.
The family, who was in court to hear the judge’s decision on Friday, said they were "very pleased" at the outcome.
The details of the case have been kept out of the public eye as journalists are not allowed inside the courtroom, and the Furlongs have been told by Japanese authorities that they are not to discuss the hearings, according to the Irish Times.
The Furlongs are said to have given a victim impact statement in front of the court on Thursday so that it is known the effect that Nicola’s murder has had on their lives. This is a common practice in Japanese trials in relation to serious crimes, as well as being common practice in Irish courts.
Nicola’s father described the experience as “very emotional” after hearing the first detailed police report of his daughter’s death.
The 21-year-old was strangled at the Shinjuku Plaza, an upmarket hotel in Tokyo, after she attended a Niki Minaj concert with an Irish friend.
The suspect involved in the killing is described by the court as a professional musician. The young man has no criminal record in the US or Japan, but he is very unlikely to be granted bail until the verdict.
A spokesman for the US embassy in Tokyo has said that American officials will not get involved in the trial.
In a trip that is not something any parent should have to encounter, Mr. Furlong explained that the visit to Tokyo was not as bad as his first visit.
“Perhaps it’s because Nicola would have been coming home around now and we’re taking her spirit home with us.”
The broken-hearted father added, “I’ve never been in a situation like this. I’ve lost people, but never one of my own. I never thought I’d be in this situation.”
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