Japanese authorities have told the Furlongs not to discuss the hearings. Photograph: Rob Gilhool via www.irishtimes.com

The family of Nicola Furlong for the first time had their chance to face the 19-year-old American currently under arrest for the death of the 23-year-old Irish exchange student. Nicola’s father, mother and younger sister looked on as the well-know Memphis, Tennessee Christian musician, Richard Hinds, appeared in a Tokyo juvenile courtroom where it was determined by three judges that he will be charged as an adult in the death of Ms.Furlong.

Mr. Hinds had planned to return to the US on June 20, 2012. Many have questioned the role of the US Embassy in Tokyo in a criminal case involving two American citizens. The following is provided from the embassy website:

“Japan is an independent, sovereign country. One of the chief attributes of sovereignty is the right of a country to make and enforce laws within its own borders. Just as in America, the government has the internationally recognized right to try foreigners as well as its own nationals within its territory.

Anyone who breaks the law in Japan is subject to prosecution under the Japanese legal system. If a person is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment by a Japanese court, this sentence will be served in a Japanese prison.

While in Japan one is subject to the same laws as is a Japanese citizen. A U.S. passport does not entitle its bearer to any special privileges. One should not expect to receive preferential treatment or to expect that the same array of legal rights accorded one under the U.S. judicial system are necessarily applicable in Japan.”

Black Tokyo received an inquiry as to whether the American Embassy is providing legal counsel to Mr. Hinds. The American Embassy has stated that they will follow the judicial procedure as set in Japan. The following explains the role of the Consul:

The Consul’s Role

The United States Government cannot get you out of jail. The Embassy or Consulates cannot accept custody of you or guarantee your appearance in court. Nor can they post bail for you, act as your legal advisor or pay legal fees for you.

After being arrested, the police will ask you if you would like the Embassy to be notified of your arrest. You can ask that the Embassy will not be notified, and at a later date you may change your mind and request that the police do notify us.

Arrested persons are not allowed to make telephone calls. If you ask that the Embassy or Consulate be notified, the police will call us on your behalf. You cannot speak to us by phone, nor can you call friends or relatives.

Richard Hinds

The Furlong family listened to the police report on the death of their daughter and was allowed to present a victim’s impact statement to the court. It has been reported that Mr. Hinds confessed to placing his hand around Ms. Furlong’s neck but did not intend to kill her. Mr. Hinds, a keyboard player, was in Tokyo with his older brother Claude (24) to perform in the world tour of the Japanese-American hip hop star AI. Mr. Hind’s faces life imprisonment if he is charged with murder. He would have faced no more than five-years beyond bars if he was tried as a juvenile in murder case.

Via the Independent.ie: “Mr. Furlong did say they had been unable to see the accused’s face as he had been positioned with his back to the family. “That is how it is here. And we have been told not to talk about anything to do with the content of the hearings,” he said.”

James “KIng Tight” Blackston

The second American man, James Blackston  (ジェイムス・ブラックストン) (23), also known as “King Tight” from Los Angeles, has not been charged as a suspect in Nicola Furlong’s death but is currently held relating to a separate assault charge of “Quasi-Forcible Indecency” on Nicola’s 23-year-old friend that accompanied her to Tokyo to attend a Nicki Minaj concert. In Japan, Quasi Forcible Indecency is defined as:

Quasi Forcible Indecency; Quasi Rape: Article 178

(1) A person who commits an indecent act upon a male or female by taking advantage of loss of consciousness or inability to resist, or by causing a loss of consciousness or inability to resist, shall be punished in the same manner as prescribed for in Article 176.

(2) A person who commits sexual intercourse with a female by taking advantage of a loss of consciousness or inability to resist, or by causing a loss of consciousness or inability to resist, shall be punished in the same matter as prescribed in the preceding Article. SOURCE

It should be noted that: “American citizens arrested overseas are not liable for prosecution for the same crime upon their return to the U.S. unless they are also wanted for an offense committed in the U.S. Arrest records maintained by the Japanese government, however, are not bound by the restrictions of the Privacy Act.  The US has no control over what information the Japanese police pass to their U.S. counterparts or to INTERPOL.”

Photo by Robert Gilhooly / Alamy

Now that Mr. Hinds will tried as an adult, reporting restrictions may be eased in the Nicola Furlong case. BT expects Mr. Furlong to make a statement to the media soon. The father was previously warned not talk to the media due to Mr. Hinds previously being classified as a juvenile in the Japanese court system.  One conflicting piece of information is the statement Ms. Furlong’s father, Andrew, made: “We’re certainly coming back if it comes to trial.”  The Tokyo Public Prosecutors’ Office gave no prediction as to when a trial would begin but stated that a trial would likely be months away.

Nicola Furlong

By the way, although the toxicology report on Ms. Furlong and her friend have not been released to the press or public, there may be more information relating to how and the the circumstances surrounding Ms. Furlong death.

To understand more of the procedures regarding arrests in Japan, the following is provided via the American Embassy – Tokyo website:

What follows is drawn from explanatory material provided to arrested Americans.

Here is what the American Embassy can do for any American arrested in Japan:

  • Visit you in jail after being notified of your arrest to check on your health and the treatment accorded you by the police;
  • Give you a list of local English-speaking attorneys (you are responsible for paying any lawyers’ fees). Japanese law does not provide for a free, court-appointed attorney at the early stages of an arrest. The court-appointed lawyer will only be assigned in certain crime cases before indictment, when the case will go to court.  If you are not eligible for a court-appointed attorney before indictment, you are still eligible for a court-appointed attorney after indictment when the case will go to court.
  • We will also inform you of the toban bengoshi, or “Duty Attorney” system, whereby the local bar association will send an attorney to meet with you for a free, one-time, consultation.The Duty Attorney can also explain about a subsidy program run by the Tokyo Legal Aid Society that can help pay for an attorney to advise an arrestee before a court-appointed lawyer is made available;
  • Make sure the police are aware of any medical conditions you have (for example, diabetes, seafood allergies, etc.), and request that you been seen by a doctor;
  • Work with local authorities to ensure that your rights under Japanese law are fully observed, to include protesting any mistreatment or abuse;
  • Supply you with English-language reading material subject to prison regulations;
  • Notify your family and friends of your arrest, relay requests for financial assistance, provided you authorize the consul to do so.

We are required to gather certain information when we visit an American in jail. Here is a list what information we collect (PDF – 3kb).

(PDF reader software such as Acrobat Reader is required to view this document. The latest Acrobat software is available for a free download).

Check back for more on the case that leaves more questions than answers! Please feel free to leave your comments below. If you reference any material. please give attribution. If you have any corrections or additions, please feel free to share.

The following BT’ers contributed to BT’s reporting of the Nicola Furlong death investigation: @blacktokyo, @onmugen @starrwulfe @ogPegasus303

Have inquiries? Feel free to contact “investigation@blacktokyo.com” regarding the Nicola Furlong case. Follow Black Tokyo on Twitter: @blacktokyo Join the discussion via Disqus or start your own on the Black Tokyo Forum.

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