Japanese police yesterday admitted mistakes had occurred during the arrest of Chang Chih-yang (張志揚), the primary suspect in the murder of two female Taiwanese students in Tokyo, and expressed regret for his death while in police custody.
The police said Chang committed suicide by slashing his own throat with a 21cm knife, which had been concealed in his pants, while he was sitting in a police car with officers next to him, contradicting earlier reports that he had committed suicide after getting out of the car.
Chang died shortly afterward, after being rushed to a hospital on Monday night.
Chang had been apprehended by police at the SKE Theater in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, and brought by car to a police station for questioning about the murder of Lin Chih-ying (林芷瀅) and Julia Chu (朱立婕), who were found stabbed to death in a language school dormitory in Tokyo’s Taito ward.
At a press conference yesterday, the Metropolitan Police Department said its officers had failed to find Chang’s hidden knife, despite conducting two body searches.
The police added that they did not handcuff Chang because he did not resemble the photograph on his wanted notice.
However, Chang confirmed his identity when he was questioned in Mandarin, the police said.
The police also said they had failed to closely monitor Chang’s movements while he was in the car.
The police said officers did not drive Chang to the closest hospital, but rather a more distant one, because the fire department decides which hospital an injured person is sent to based on the severity of the injury and Chang was sent to the best-equipped health center because he was seriously injured.
Police said Chang, speaking in Mandarin, told an officer while being driven to the police station that he had stolen items and killed Lin and Chu with a fruit knife. Chang said he felt sorry for Lin, Chu and their families, as well as his family and relatives, police said.
The murder case has not been closed because of Chang’s death, police said, adding that they would continue to investigate to determine whether he was the murderer.
Earlier yesterday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson James Chang (章計平) expressed stern concerns over Chang’s death, demanding an explanation from the Japanese police about their handling of the arrest.
Chang Chih-yang’s parents traveled to Japan yesterday afternoon and did not interact much with the throngs of reporters who awaited them at the airport prior to their departure.
“I don’t know what to say and what to do. We will see what we can do after we arrive in Japan,” his father said.
Wu Nien-jen (吳念真), a famous playwright and director, yesterday left a message on his Facebook page telling reporters to understand what Chang Chih-yang’s father is going through and not to bombard him with questions.
“The one who committed the crime was an adult aged 30, not his father. The man is a father who just lost his son, a father in tears. Can you just not ask him anything?” Wu wrote.
“I beg you, please. If you do this because you have to meet your work demand, can you just take a shot of his back? He knows less than you and he wants to know the truth more than you do. As for his pain, you, at a young age, do not understand at all,” he added.
Lin’s father was also approached by reporters at the airport earlier yesterday.