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Junior high school boy held for killing schoolmate

Date Posted: 2003-07-11

A junior high school student is in custody in Chatan Town, charged with murdering a schoolmate. Police arrested the 14-year-old student on suspicion of murdering the 13-year-old schoolmate, on Saturday after finding the victimfs body buried in a local cemetery in Yoshihara, Chatan Town. The Police had received a tip by phone earlier the same day. The police identified the victim as Tsutomu Zakimi, 13, a student at Kuwae Junior High School. He had not been seen since June 28.

Police also held two 16-year-old boys, one 13-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl for questioning in connection with the case. All three boys have admitted to assaulting Tsutomu at the cemetery and burying his body. They say that they attacked Tsutomu because he refused to admit that he had stolen the wallet of the mother of one of the boys.

All children had a history of truancy and were often seen roaming the streets late at night or playing in game parlors instead of attending school. The police had reportedly admonished them before for not going to school.

Investigators say that Tsutomu had not returned to his home, where he lived with his grandfather, father and older brother, since June 28. However, his father told the police that it was not unusual for Tsutomu not to return home for several days and for him to stay in friendsf houses. Thatfs why they were not worried and did not report him missing.

The name of the 14-year-old main suspect is being withheld because he is a minor. Investigators say that the body was badly decomposed when found. It was buried close to the back of the cemetery adjacent to Camp Lester. An autopsy to determine the cause of death is scheduled.

According to local residents and Tsutomufs schoolmates, he was often seen being bullied by other youths. A neighbor said that he had often seen Tsutomu walk on the street late alone. gAlthough he hung out with those other kids they were really bad for him. They always said that they were going to kill him, and demanded that he bring money. Thatfs the reason he did not want to go to school,h the neighbor said.

The victim's family expressed shock and anger at the news. His 21-year-old brother said that because Tsutomu had run away from home before, the family had expected him to return.

"I once saw him come home with bruises on his face, which he said were the result of a fight, but I never heard him saying there was trouble with the kids he hung out with," he said.

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