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Friday, Dec. 16, 2011

Prosecutor stands by interrogation of Ozawa ex-aide


Staff writer

A prosecutor who grilled a former aide to Democratic Party of Japan power broker Ichiro Ozawa testified Thursday that the ex-aide, Tomohiro Ishikawa, signed off on the record of the interrogation and denied coercing the ex-aide as he sought to establish the facts of the case involving Ozawa's political funds records.

But during the ninth session of Ozawa's trial at the Tokyo District Court, defense lawyers accused the prosecutor, Masahiro Tashiro, of failing to revise the records to reflect factual changes Ishikawa asked him to make.

They also slammed the prosecutor for falsely telling Ishikawa that sticking to his original story would reduce the likelihood of charges being leveled at Ozawa.

Ozawa is accused of conspiring with his former secretaries to falsify the financial reports of his political fund management body, Rikuzankai, in 2004, 2005 and 2007. He denies any wrongdoing.

The records of Ishikawa's interrogation are among the key pieces of evidence to determine whether Ozawa conspired with Ishikawa and other aides to make the false entries in Rikuzankai's fund records.

Under interrogation, Ishikawa, a Lower House lawmaker, told Tashiro that he showed the fund records to Ozawa before submitting them to the government in March. However, he denied doing so in his testimony at Ozawa's trial in October.

In May 2010, Ishikawa secretly recorded his questioning by Tashiro, who now works at the Niigata District Public Prosecutor's Office. The tape was submitted as evidence and was aired at one of Ozawa's trial sessions in October.

Questioned Thursday by appointed lawyers serving as prosecutors in Ozawa's case, who are seeking to establish the credibility of the interrogation records, Tashiro testified that he refused to revise some of the records because Ishikawa's claims were implausible.

However, one of Ozawa's lawyers criticized Tashiro for the way he conducted the interrogation, arguing that the grilling records and the reports he made to his superiors persuaded a panel of citizens who reviewed the case to seek a mandatory indictment of the DPJ don.



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