Mon, Jan 26, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Japan condemns ‘outrageous’ hostage murder

AFP, TOKYO

A protester holds up a poster during a rally in front of the prime minister’s residence in Tokyo yesterday. A video purportedly showing Kenji Goto holding a photograph of the headless body of fellow hostage Haruna Yakawa was released yesterday.

Photo: EPA

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday branded the murder of a Japanese hostage by Islamic State militants as “outrageous and unforgivable,” and demanded the immediate release of a second captive, amid a tide of global revulsion.

The apparent beheading of self-employed security contractor Haruna Yukawa was announced in a video generally agreed to be credible, and appeared to mark a grave turn of events in a crisis that has gripped Japan for nearly a week.

“Such an act of terrorism is outrageous and unforgivable,” Abe told broadcaster NHK.

“I condemn it strongly and resolutely,” he said, calling for the immediate freeing of Yukawa’s fellow captive, freelance journalist Kenji Goto.

In a city outside Tokyo, Shoichi Yukawa told of the horror he felt when he learned that threats to kill his son had been carried out.

“I thought: ‘Ah, this finally happened’ and was filled with regret,” he said.

“I went totally blank, I was only sorry... I had no words,” he said. “In my mind I wish very much that this was not true.”

Japan was continuing with analysis of the images released overnight to confirm the authenticity of the video, Abe said, but he acknowledged it appeared credible.

The recording, which lasts nearly three minutes, shows a still image of a gaunt and drawn Goto holding what appears to be a photograph of Yukawa’s slain body.

It was posted with an audio recording in which a man claiming to be Goto blames Abe for his fellow captive’s death because he failed to pay a US$200 million ransom.

The voice also reveals a new demand for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman sentenced to death in Jordan for her part in multiple bombings in Amman in 2005 that killed 60 people.

The man, who speaks accented English, said the militants are no longer demanding money to save his life, but want “their sister” to be freed.

“It is simple. You give them Sajida and I will be released,” the voice says. “At the moment, it actually looks possible and our government are indeed a stone throw away.”

US President Barack Obama led the worldwide condemnation of what he called the “brutal murder.”

Obama, who arrived in New Delhi yesterday for a three-day visit, telephoned Abe from the Indian capital “to offer condolences for the murder ... and to convey solidarity with the Japanese people,” a White House statement said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron decried the Islamic State movement’s “murderous barbarity,” while French President Francois Hollande labeled it a “barbaric assassination.”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot called it “an absolute atrocity” carried out by a “death cult.”

German Minister of Foreign Affaris Frank-Walter Steinmeier condemned the killing as “an odious crime.”

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