Andrew and his family in Japan for initial hearing
THE FAMILY of Nicola Furlong flew out to Japan yesterday (Tuesday) to attend the first court appearance of Richard Hinds (19), the man accused of killing Nicola in a Tokyo hotel room in May.
The family were informed last Friday that they would be allowed to attend court, following a couple of weeks of uncertainty.
Nicola's father Andrew, mother Angie and sister Andrea had already made plans to travel over for the initial court hearing in recent weeks, but were informed that due to a legal technicality, they may not have been allowed to attend the court case on July 26 and 27.
Under Japanese law, the judge may sometimes forbid the family of a victim from being present in court in case it influences his decision.
Speaking on Friday Andrew said: ' They rang us this morning to say that we can go out. Now we can go ahead with the travel plans that we had made. We're flying out on Tuesday on the same flights that we had provisionally booked. We're due to leave Japan on July 28 and be back in Ireland on July 29, so we'll only be out there a few days.'
Hinds' case will initially be heard in family court, as he is still a minor in the eyes of Japanese law, however due to his proximity to the age of legal responsibility and the severity of the crime, it is possible that the judge will call for a full criminal trial.
Although this hearing is likely to be quick, Andrew believes it's important that his family are present.
' There's two ways of looking at it,' he said. 'Either we endure a long journey for the hearing, or we wait at home to hear news coming back. I think it's better to hear what's going on first hand.
' They'll provide us with a translator out there so we'll know what's going on as it happens. We shouldn't be going over at all because this never should have happened, but we'll just have to deal with it as it goes along now.'