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Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010

Ozawa sues government over indictment process


Staff writer

Democratic Party of Japan kingpin Ichiro Ozawa sued the government Friday, claiming a judicial panel's move to indict him for falsifying political funds reports is illegal and invalid.

Ozawa's lawyer also filed for an injunction to stop the Tokyo District Court from selecting attorneys who will act as prosecutors in the trial. The court has asked the Daini Tokyo Bar Association to recommend three lawyers for the post by Oct. 22.

It is unclear how Ozawa's lawsuit will affect this move.

In its Sept. 14 decision, released Oct. 4, the Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution alleged that Ozawa played a key role in reporting the purchase of property in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, in the 2005 political funding report instead of the 2004 report.

The panel also noted Ozawa loaned ¥400 million to Rikuzankai, his political fund management body, for the ¥350 million land purchase and failed to report it as well. In its initial decision in April, the panel did not mention the money.

Ozawa's lawyer said the ¥400 million loan was not among allegations the inquest panel was asked to review.

"It appeared out of nowhere in the second decision by the inquest committee," he said in a statement, arguing that the alleged falsified report on the ¥400 million did not go through the process necessary for an indictment.

The judicial panel's decision states that Ozawa sought a ¥400 million bank loan to disguise the loan he extended to Rikuzankai, implying the source of the funds was shady, the lawyer said, adding if that is the case, then the inquest committee put more weight on the ¥400 million loan than it did on the date falsification.

"It is highly likely the inquest committee would not have come to the conclusion to indict Mr. Ozawa if the subject was only about reporting a false date," the lawyer said. "The decision should be considered invalid."

An official at the Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution said it had no comment on the suit.

On Thursday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said complaints of this type should be made during the trial, not in the form of a suit against the state. Prime Minister Naoto Kan meanwhile said he is ready to discuss with opposition parties whether Ozawa should give sworn testimony before the Diet.

"I would like to discuss how and where (Ozawa would be summoned in the Diet) if there is a formal proposal," Kan told the Upper House Budget Committee.

Three Ozawa ex-aides, including Lower House lawmaker Tomohiro Ishikawa and Takanori Okubo, have already been indicted for failing to specify ¥400 million in loans from Ozawa by Rikuzankai in its financial reports for 2004 and 2005.

Regarding a separate case of alleged false reporting by Rikuzankai in 2007, Tokyo prosecutors on Sept. 30 decided again not to indict Ozawa, putting an end to the probe into the 2007 report.



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