Belfast Telegraph

Families of victims 'need space'

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has appealed for space to be given to the families of a woman killed after a concert in Japan and her friend who was also sexually assaulted.

Two men from the United States, named in local media reports in Tokyo as 19-year-old backing musician Larry Perry and hip-hop dancer James Blackston, 23, are being detained on suspicion of sex attacks.

Nicola Furlong, 21, was found unconscious at an upmarket hotel and later died.

The Tanaiste, also Minister for Foreign Affairs, offered his sympathies to the Furlong family from Curracloe, Co Wexford, and to the family of the dead woman's friend, also from Wexford.

"I want to offer my deepest condolences to the Furlong family who have lost Nicola in such awful circumstances," he said.

"There is a police investigation under way and my department and the Irish embassy in Tokyo are continuing to provide consular assistance to Nicola's family and to Nicola's friend who was also a victim in this case."

The two men are held on suspicion of a quasi-forceable indecency, according to Japanese police. Both women were studying Japanese and business at Dublin City University and were in Japan on a studying trip.

The Tanaiste asked for space for both families to deal with the incident after last Wednesday's concert.

"The parents of both women have appealed to the media to respect their families' privacy," he said. "I would respectfully ask the media to bear that in mind in their reporting of the case and to allow the families and friends of both women privacy at this very difficult time."

He added: "My department continues to provide consular assistance to the two families and our embassy in Tokyo will remain in close contact with the relevant Japanese authorities as the investigation proceeds."

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