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Thursday, June 8, 2006

Horie 'pretrials' bog down as state has yet to submit evidence


Staff writer

So-called fast-track pretrial procedures for Livedoor Co. founder Takafumi Horie are getting bogged down in particulars, and the prosecution hasn't submitted its evidence, Horie's lawyers said Wednesday.

Instead, prosecutors responded in writing to defense lawyers' demands that they explain their grounds for charging Horie with violating the Securities and Exchange Law.

"We still have questions about how prosecutors can prove the violations," defense lawyer Yasuyuki Takai said.

The two sides spent Wednesday's two-hour closed-door session discussing why prosecutors think a particular investment fund set up by Livedoor was a paper fund.

"We recognized only one part of their explanation as fact: the date that the fund was set up," Takai said. "The rest we mean to fight."

The fund was used as a vehicle to secretly funnel proceeds from sales of Livedoor stock to Livedoor itself, prosecutors alleged.

After Horie's first pretrial proceedings, held in May, lawyers expected the trial to start as early as mid-July, with a verdict by year's end.

On Wednesday, however, they said they had no idea when it would start. The next meeting between lawyers, prosecutors and judges is expected in about 10 days' time.

Horie does not intend to attend the hearings, Takai said.

Pretrial proceedings were adopted Nov. 1 to speed up the famously slow judicial system.

The point is for the defense and prosecution to submit evidence and agree on what to admit during the trial. The court then closes its doors to new evidence, except in exceptional cases, thereby reducing trial sessions.

The courts hope speeding up the judicial process will help the public participate in sentencing in criminal cases, starting in May 2009, when the "lay judge" system debuts.



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The Japan Times

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