PAN-JUMBIE

Asami’s case a priority for Cold Case Unit

TT – Three years af­ter the mur­der of Japan­ese pan play­er Asa­mi Na­gakiya, the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice’s Cold Case Unit has found new in­for­ma­tion which can help solve the case.

Head of the Unit ACP An­tho­ny James con­firmed the po­lice had got­ten in­for­ma­tion which “points in a cer­tain di­rec­tion” ahead of to­day’s third an­niver­sary of the dis­cov­ery of Na­gakiya’s body.

“There may be some light at the end of this tun­nel,” James added.

Na­gakiya, 31, of Sap­poro-shi, Hokkai­do, had been com­ing to T&T since 2009 to play with steel­bands.

In 2016, she had al­so played mas with Lega­cy’s Car­ni­val band. Her body was found by a CEPEP work­er on Ash Wednes­day—Feb­ru­ary 9—at the base of a tree in the Queen’s Park Sa­van­nah. She was still clad in her Leg­end’s cos­tume.

An au­top­sy re­vealed she had been stran­gled. Po­lice es­ti­mat­ed she had died some­time be­tween Car­ni­val Tues­day night and Ash Wednes­day. Na­gakiya was last seen alive on Car­ni­val Tues­day around 6.15 pm walk­ing with a man near Pic­ton Court, New­town.

TTPS’ Homi­cide di­vi­sion which probed the mat­ter, in­ter­viewed var­i­ous peo­ple in T&T as well as in Japan and had sought CCTV footage from ar­eas where Na­gakiya’s body was found.

Yes­ter­day, homi­cide of­fi­cials told Guardian Me­dia, avail­able CCTV footage did not cap­ture any­thing. A 31-year-old man who was in­ter­viewed by po­lice in con­nec­tion with the crime was killed in a rob­bery at­tempt nine months af­ter Na­gakiya died.

The case was tak­en up by the Cold Case Unit in 2017 when that di­vi­sion formed.

ACP James said “This is a front-burn­er is­sue for us—pri­or­i­ty—be­cause we un­der­stand the tragedy in­volved as well as the amount of in­ter­na­tion­al at­ten­tion it has re­ceived. It’s al­ways in my con­ver­sa­tion with the team. We be­lieve it can be solved par­tic­u­lar­ly on the ba­sis of sci­en­tif­ic ev­i­dence—swabs, DNA tests, etc—we’re de­pend­ing heav­i­ly on that.”

“It points in cer­tain di­rec­tions but we have to prop­er­ly go over all ev­i­dence. We’ve made cer­tain rec­om­men­da­tions on the mat­ter. We al­so hope the Na­tion­al Op­er­a­tions Cen­tre will re­view any­thing they have on CCTV footage.”

James said the Unit is pre­pared to cast its in­ter­view net again and even re-in­ter­view peo­ple. The case is one of ap­prox­i­mate­ly 120 cas­es which Unit—com­pris­ing homi­cide and oth­er of­fi­cers—is han­dling.

Japan­ese Em­bassy of­fi­cial Chi­haru Hoshi­ai said, “We’re aware the in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to Ms Na­gakiya’s death is still un­der­way, and we re­main hope­ful this case will be solved soon.”

Na­gakiya’s col­leagues at Sil­ver Stars Steel Or­ches­tra—the last steel­band she had played with —say they still miss her, re­mem­ber her and re­main hope­ful “al­ways”.

The Wood­ford Street prop­er­ty where Na­gakiya resided be­fore her death re­mains un­oc­cu­pied. On Thurs­day, work­ers trimmed Sa­van­nah trees in the area where Na­gakiya’s body was found—in­clud­ing the one which had shel­tered her body.

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