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Friday, March 4, 2011

Two-year stretch urged for Ebizo brawler


Staff writer

Prosecutors demanded a two-year prison term Wednesday for the man accused of assaulting kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo last November.

Lion Ito, 27, stands accused of attacking Ebizo, 33, at a bar in Tokyo's Nishi-Azabu district on Nov. 25.

Ebizo, a rising star and heir to a kabuki dynasty, was badly beaten and suffered a broken left cheekbone that took two months to heal. He was also indefinitely suspended from performing in light of his heavy drinking habit.

Ito pleaded guilty at the start of his Tokyo District Court trial last month. On Wednesday, he again stressed that the brawl was initiated by an inebriated Ebizo who was insulting one of his friends.

"Mr. Ebizo was not acting rational and I was afraid of what he would do," Ito told the court. Eventually Ebizo head-butted one of Ito's friends, at which point the defendant felt the need to stop the violence, the defendant's lawyers said. The brawl that ensued was an act of self-defense, Ito said.

While apologizing for going "too far," Ito said Ebizo's claims that he never acted violently are "wrong." He also said that, in addition to the head-butting, Ebizo attempted to kick him during the fight.

The prosecutors meanwhile dredged up Ito's checkered past, including involvement in other assaults, and claimed Ebizo was a victim of a "brutal and vicious" attack.

"The injuries sustained by the victim were severe . . . why did it have to go that far" if it was an act of self-defense, the prosecutors asked Ito.

They demanded a strict sentence and said the attack was a one-sided affair carried out on a victim who was drunk and likely unable to counterattack.



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