A judge has committed a Chinese national living in Toronto for extradition to Japan amid questions about a 1995 supermarket murders.
A judge has ordered a Chinese national living in Toronto to be committed for extradition to Japan, where he is wanted for questioning in a high-profile supermarket murder of a woman and two schoolgirls.
Liang He, 41, who describes himself as a Brampton supermarket worker, was allegedly involved with criminal gangs in Japan, according to Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Clark.
Clark ruled Monday that the married father of two sons should be extradited to face charges of using an improperly issued Japanese passport, though his lawyers argue Japan is using that as an excuse to question him about the murders.
The courthouse on University Ave. was beset by 20 Japanese reporters covering the story.
On the night of July 30, 1995, three part-time workers were shot at Nanpei Supermarket in the Tokyo suburb of Hachioji. Dead were high school students Hiromi Maeda, 16, and Megumi Yabuki, 17, as well as 47-year-old Noriko Inagaki. The crime remains unsolved.
Liang He is alleged to have lived in Japan from the 1990s until 2002. In 1994, He was found guilty in Yokohama District Court of an immigration offence and deported. But he returned to Japan, joining a gang committing burglaries and robberies, the judge said.
In 2002, he allegedly returned to his native China, using a fake passport, and dealt illegal drugs with a Japanese accomplice, Teruo Tekeda, Clark wrote. Tekeda was arrested in China and sentenced to execution. While awaiting death, Tekeda told authorities that although He was not likely responsible for the Japanese supermarket murders, he might know who was.
Tokyo police believed it was vital to interrogate He “to solve this high-profile unsolved murder case,” extradition documents said.
Outside court, He’s lawyers, Peter Zaduk and Robin Parker, said they will appeal his extradition, which could take up to three years, and will seek to renew his bail.
They argued Japan’s application is an abuse of process because the passport allegation is a ruse to question him about the murders. They said He is willing to be questioned by Japanese police in Canada, which would be fairer and quicker.
But Clark ruled there is clear evidence a passport crime was committed. “I cannot agree that the present intention to prosecute is a sham.”
It is now up Justice Minister Rob Nicholson whether to deport He, who is a Canadian citizen after having made a successful refugee claim.