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Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010

Panel's decision on Ozawa flawed: professor

Staff writer

The decision by an independent judicial panel to indict Democratic Party of Japan kingpin Ichiro Ozawa has crucial procedural flaws that could damage its credibility, Meiji University professor Nobuo Gohara said Tuesday.

Gohara, a former prosecutor, said the matter comes down to whether the Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution kept strictly to its terms of reference or overstepped its bounds.

The scope of the panel's review concerned the allegedly falsified date in Ozawa's funding reports over the acquisition of land in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, and the timing of payment, Gohara said.

But in a seven-page statement, the panel included an unreported ¥400 million loan by Ozawa to Rikuzankai, his political fund management body, as among the reasons he should be indicted.

"The incident (Ozawa) was accused of and the incident the committee deemed a crime are different," Gohara told a news conference. "To reach the decision based on an incident beyond the scope that it was asked to review is obviously wrong. I'm not sure whether the designated lawyers who will act as prosecutors will be able to make an indictment."

Gohara added that the logic in the committee statement is unreasonable when considering the credibility of the deposition of Tomohiro Ishikawa, Ozawa's former secretary and a Lower House lawmaker.

The committee stated that Ishikawa's deposition would have been less trustworthy if he had recalled in vivid detail how he was given the green light from Ozawa to falsify the financial reports.

"Generally, depositions have higher credibility if the deponent remembers the incident in detail," Gohara said. "Depositions may not necessarily be credible even though they are detailed. But to consider it less credible because it has more detail is illogical."

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