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Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007
Slipshod architect Aneha loses appeal, faces prison
By JUN HONGO
The Tokyo High Court on Wednesday upheld a lower court-imposed five-year prison sentence and ¥1.8 million fine for architect Hidetsugu Aneha for fabricating building safety data and committing perjury.
Aneha was specifically convicted of fabricating the data on six condo complexes and hotels between February 2003 and February 2005.
The Tokyo District Court in December found the 50-year-old liable for illegally lending his credentials as a first-class licensed architect to an acquaintance for ¥4.45 million in kickbacks and lying under oath to a Diet committee in December 2005.
In Wednesday's decision, presiding Judge Kunio Harada stated that the accused "not only attempted to dodge liability, but tried to put the blame on others" by lying under oath that he was pressured to fake construction blueprints. The disgraced architect also stated at the Diet that the fabrications began in 1998, when in fact they started in 1996.
The perjury "was an attempt to selfishly protect his own interests, which leaves no reason to consider extenuation," Harada told the court, adding that the false testimony resulted in delayed inspections of substandard buildings Aneha designed.
Dressed in a blue suit but without his usual toupee, Aneha sat impassively as the verdict was read. He bowed to the judges at the close of the session.
His lawyers did not immediately reveal whether their client would appeal the case to the Supreme Court.
The scandal centering on Aneha broke when the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry revealed in November 2005 that the architect had faked quake-resistance data for 20 condominium complexes and a hotel in Tokyo and surrounding areas to disguise certain time- and cost-cutting steps, including reducing the number of steel reinforcement rods. He was arrested in April 2006.
Aneha initially claimed that Kumamoto Prefecture-based Kimura Construction Co. pressured him to fabricate blueprints but later admitted he acted on his own.
Investigations revealed that Aneha was involved in designing 99 substandard buildings in Tokyo and 17 other prefectures beginning in 1996. The charges focused on six of the buildings, some of which had only a quarter of the structural reinforcement required by law.
The architect had argued he was not solely liable in the scam, but pleaded guilty to fabricating the data and lending his credentials. He claimed the perjury was unintentional.
Following the district court's verdict in December, Aneha filed an appeal in January claiming the sentence was excessive.