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Victim's family prepare for trial

The parents of murdered British teacher Lindsay Hawker are preparing to fly to Japan where they will have the chance to question their daughter's alleged killer in court.

Bill and Julia Hawker will come face to face with Tatsuya Ichihashi when he goes on trial for murder on July 4.

Under the Japanese system they will be classed as "victim participants" and will be able, at the discretion of the court, to question the defendant and and give their opinion on sentencing. They will also be able, for example, to ask to examine the prosecution evidence.

Miss Hawker, 22, was found dead in a sand-filled bathtub on the balcony of Ichihashi's apartment in Chiba, east of Tokyo, in March 2007. Ichihashi, 32, was one of her students at an English language school.

He was arrested in Osaka, in western Japan, on November 10, 2009 and has been in custody since.

In January he promised to donate the proceeds of a book in which he confessed to the killing to Ms Hawker's family. It detailed how he spent two and a half years on the run following the murder and how he underwent plastic surgery to change his appearance.

Ichihashi also apologised to Ms Hawker's family, claiming he wrote the book as "a gesture of contrition for the crime I committed".

While at large, Ichihashi said he travelled through 23 prefectures (states) across Japan and became obsessed with cosmetic surgery due to fears of his arrest - even attempting procedures on himself with scissors.

He also claimed to have embarked on a pilgrimage tour of temples on the south-western island of Shikoku, wishing Ms Hawker could "come back to life". He was finally arrested in Osaka while waiting for a ferry to Okinawa.

The Hawker family have said simply that they want justice for their daughter at trial.

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