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Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2010


Indictment under unjust scenario

The Osaka District Court on Sept. 10 declared Ms. Atsuko Muraki, a former head of the welfare ministry's Equal Employment, Children and Families Bureau, innocent of a charge that she issued a fabricated certificate to recognize an organization as a group for the disabled, thus enabling it to use a postage discount system.

Although her co-defendant and witnesses had told prosecutors about her involvement during the pre-trial investigation, they withdrew their statements in hearings in and after February. On May 26, the court adopted only nine of 43 depositions presented by the prosecutors, pointing to the possibility that they used leading questions. It is outrageous that they tried to build a case in accordance with their scenario. The prosecution must examine itself and explain in concrete terms to the public what errors the prosecutors made.

The prosecution alleged that Mr. Hajime Ishii, a Democratic Party of Japan Diet member, acting on a request from a member of the organization, asked Ms. Muraki's boss for help in 2004 and that under his instruction, Ms. Muraki, then head of the section in charge of measures for the disabled, had her subordinate Mr. Tsutomu Kamimura (indicted on the same charge as she) forge a false certificate in June 2004.

Mr. Ishii's alibi was confirmed. In the trial, Mr. Kamimura said that he made the certificate on his own without any instruction from anybody and that although he repeatedly said that he acted alone, the prosecutors would not listen to him. Others also said that the prosecutors put what they did not say into depositions and ignored their requests for corrections. It also surfaced that the prosecutors all had disposed of interrogation memos recording questions and answers.

On May 26, the court dismissed all depositions that referred to Ms. Muraki's involvement, including 15 sets of statements of Mr. Kamimura, the core evidence against Ms. Muraki. Among them was a statement that Ms. Muraki gave the instruction to him. Her acquittal strengthens the case for video-recording of the entire interrogation process. The prosecution should not appeal the ruling.

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