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Police come face-to-face with fugitive -

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ELEANOR HALL: To Japan now and it sounds like a Hollywood thriller. A murder suspect turned
fugitive and on the run from police for more than two years uses plastic surgery to change his
appearance.

But overnight police in Japan got their man, arresting Tatsuya Ichihashi, the 30-year-old who was
wanted for strangling a British teacher, Lindsay Ann Hawker.

Members of Ms Hawker's family say they are relieved about the man's capture and that after
two-and-a-half years they're starting to see justice.

North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy reports from Tokyo.

(Sound of voice recording of Tatsuya Ichihashi)

MARK WILLACY: For two-and-a-half years Tatsuya Ichihashi was just a voice recording. Along with an
old photo that's all police had.

The 30-year-old had disappeared into thin air after police came knocking on his door back in 2007.

On Ichihashi's balcony they made a gruesome discovery - the naked body of Lindsay Ann Hawker.

The English teacher from the West Midlands had been strangled then buried in sand in Ichihashi's
bathtub.

The 22-year-old's family would spend the next two-and-a-half years coming to Japan to seek justice.

(Sound of a reporter running up stairs and speaking)

Sprinting up the steps of the Osaka ferry terminal, this TV reporter breathlessly tells viewers
that police have finally got their man.

Ichihashi had tried to board the ferry to Okinawa to make his great escape but had been recognised
by one of the passengers.

(Sound of witness speaking)

"He was sitting calmly when the police arrived," says this witness. "He was wearing a black cap and
sunglasses and when the police addressed him, he coolly responded that yes, he was Ichihashi," says
the man.

Tatsuya Ichihashi's arrest has set off a media frenzy in Japan. What made his case so unique was
not only the length of time he eluded investigators but the way he did it.

Ichihashi underwent several plastic surgeries, completely altering the shape of his eyes, nose and
lips. He was almost unrecognisable.

So despite thousands of wanted posters and his image saturating the media, Ichihashi managed to
snare a paying job at a construction firm in Osaka for more than a year.

(Sound of construction manager speaking)

"I didn't recognise that he was Ichihashi," says the construction manager who hired him. "For a
start he had a moustache, and wore a hat and sunglasses. I decided to hire him because he made a
good impression on me," he says.

Over his year at the construction site the fugitive managed to save more than $12,000 which he used
to further alter his face.

But even with a new appearance Ichihashi had to lay low and according to his manager at the
construction firm he'd recently started to make plans to leave Japan.

(Sound of construction manager speaking)

"Ichihashi asked me a favour recently when I was heading into town," the manager says. "He asked me
to buy him a book on how to acquire a passport," he says.

But in recent days the net had closed in on the 30-year-old. Police had received a tip off that
he'd had plastic surgery and then they released photos of Tatsuya Ichihashi after his make-over.

Then overnight came the arrest in Osaka, much to the relief of the victim's father William Hawker
back in England.

WILLIAM HAWKER: I'd also just like to thank the Japanese police. After a very bungled start to my
daughter's murder they've got their man. We're just so relieved that this part of our life is over.
I can go down to my daughter's grave this afternoon and tell her.

MARK WILLACY: And of course there is one other set of victims in this terrible affair. Tatsuya
Ichihashi's own parents, who'd long pleaded with their fugitive son to give himself up.

(Sound of Tatsuya Ichihashi's father speaking)

"I am relieved my son has been caught," says Ichihashi's father. "Probably you think my son is a
monster, but for us he wasn't like that, he was a sweet boy. But I am deeply sorry for the Hawker
family and their loss. All I can do now is pray for Miss Hawker," he says.

This is Mark Willacy in Tokyo for The World Today.