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Japan serial rapist sentenced to life

world Updated: Dec 16, 2008 13:11 IST
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A Japanese serial rapist was sentenced on Tuesday by Tokyo's high court to life in prison for a series of attacks on women, but was not found guilty of murdering Briton Lucie Blackman. Instead, he was found guilty of dismembering and abandoning her body.

The Tokyo High Court sentenced millionaire real estate developer Joji Obara to life in prison for nine other rapes, upholding a lower court decision.

The High Court went farther than the lower court in its 2007 conviction, ruling that Obara dismembered and abandoned Blackman's body. But it acquitted him of murdering and raping her. Obara was never charged with murder, only the lesser charge of "rape leading to death" of Blackman and another victim, Australian Carita Ridgeway. He pleaded innocent to all charges, testifying that he had sex with the women with consent, and that Blackman and Ridgeway drugged themselves.

Blackman, 21, was working at a Tokyo nightclub in 2000 when she went missing. Her dismembered body was discovered in a seaside cave near Obara's condominium in early 2001, her head encased in concrete.

Prosecutors alleged that Obara drugged her and sexually assaulted her after she fell unconscious. When Blackman died of a drug overdose, Obara dismembered her body with a chain saw and disposed of it near the condominium, prosecutors said.

The earlier ruling said there was no physical evidence directly linking Obara to Blackman's rape, death, or the disposal of her body.