JIADEP NOTE: There has never been a time in US history when three prosecutors were jailed at the same time. In fact, only two prosecutors were convicted in the 100 year period of 1900-2000. For reasons not yet clear, the Procurator's office is showing remarkable accountability. We hope to have more about this case in the future.

The disclosures about violations over a three year period is due to a freedom of information demand made by the Mainichi Shinbun.

Maeda

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Maeda: Disciplinary Dismissal
The Yomiuri Shimbun
(Oct. 13, 2010)


Tsunehiko Maeda has been dismissed from the position of chief prosecutor of a special investigation squad and indicted on charges of allegedly tampering with data seized as evidence in a case involving the abuse of a postal discount system.

The Supreme Public Prosecutors Office said Maeda had admitted the allegation, telling investigators he falsified the data because the evidence would harm his chances of getting a guilty verdict.

Before the indictment Monday, the Justice Ministry gave Maeda a disciplinary dismissal, effective Monday, making him the sixth prosecutor to be fired in this way since the end of World War II.

"His actions destroyed the root of the public's trust in the prosecution. We once again offer our deepest apologies to the people," Tetsuo Ito, deputy head of the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office, said at a press conference Monday.

According to the indictment and other sources, Maeda brought his computer to the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office on July 13 last year and used it to alter data on the floppy disk. He changed the date the data was last modified on the disk from June 1, 2004, to June 8, 2004, so the date would match the scenario the special investigation squad had formulated for the case.

The disk was confiscated from the home of Tsutomu Kamimura, a former section chief at the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

After the indictment of former senior ministry official Atsuko Muraki in early July, Maeda wanted to get rid of the disk because it did not match the case the prosecutors had built, according to the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office. However, he was afraid Kamimura's lawyers might notice the inconsistency between prosecutors' arguments and the data if the disk was returned, so he tampered with the data before returning it to defense lawyers, the prosecutors said.


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Maeda confided in bosses / Top prosecutors failed to act on evidence-tampering issue
(Sep. 23, 2010)
The Yomiuri Shimbun


A chief investigator at the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office informed his superiors in February that he might have tampered with evidence in an investigation he was leading, but the senior officials failed to take any action, according to sources in the office.

Tsunehiko Maeda, 43, was arrested Tuesday night by the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office on suspicion of altering data on a floppy disk seized as possible evidence in a case involving suspected abuse of the postal system.

In early February, Maeda told Hiromichi Otsubo, then head of the office's special investigation division, that he "may have altered the floppy disk."

Takashi Kobayashi, chief prosecutor of the Osaka office, and Hideaki Tamai, then deputy chief prosecutor and now deputy chief prosecutor at the Osaka High Public Prosecutors Office, were subsequently informed by an official of the division of Maeda's possible offense.

According to the sources, the official told Kobayashi, "There was some trouble between the prosecutors [over whether Maeda had altered the data] but it's all settled now."

The Supreme Public Prosecutors Office intends to question senior officials at the Osaka office concerning the allegations against Maeda.

The investigation led by Maeda revolved around suspected abuse of the postal discount system by a group that falsely claimed to support the handicapped.

Atsuko Muraki, 54, a former director general of a bureau at the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, was arrested last June on suspicion of having pressured Tsutomu Kamimura, 41, a former unit chief at the ministry, to fabricate and issue a postal discount eligibility document to the group in June 2004.

The floppy disk in question was seized from Kamimura's house.

Muraki was cleared of the charges against her by the Osaka District Court earlier this month, and had her acquittal confirmed Tuesday.

During the first hearing of Muraki's trial in January, her defense counsel said claims in the prosecutors' investigation report regarding when a document on the disk was last updated contradicted the date and time recorded on the disk.

This discrepancy aroused controversy within the trial unit at the Osaka prosecutors office, and a rumor began circulating that Maeda had altered the data on the disk.

Maeda soon after told his superior, Otsubo--who is now deputy chief prosecutor at the Kyoto District Public Prosecutors Office--that he "may have altered the floppy disk, although it wasn't intentional."

Maeda's admission was possibly prompted by concern his tampering with the disk--which the division eventually decided not to submit as evidence in the trial and returned to Kamimura in July last year--was going to be noticed during the trial.

An official of the division led by Otsubo told Kobayashi: "Another prosecutor put it to Maeda that he had altered the data on the disk, leading to trouble in the office. But it's all settled now."

Kobayashi told The Yomiuri Shimbun: "If the data was altered, we would've taken action...We've concluded that the other prosecutor [who confronted Maeda] was imagining things."

Kobayashi added that the office had not investigated possible alterations by Maeda to the disk's contents.

Before his arrest, Maeda told an inquiry at the Osaka office that any alterations to data on the disk were made by mistake.

"After having the data on the floppy disk transferred to a USB memory stick, I checked whether Kamimura had tampered with the date and time [of last modification to the document]," he said.

"At that time, I entertained myself by modifying the data, as I often do. I intended to change the data on the USB stick, but when I checked the USB later, I found no changes had been made. Then I realized I may have changed the data on the floppy disk," he said.

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Questions remain in postal case / Could Maeda have altered data on disk without technical help?
The Yomiuri Shimbun
(Sep. 23, 2010)


Many questions remain unanswered following the arrest of Tsunehiko Maeda, a chief prosecutor in the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office's special investigation division, on suspicion of destroying evidence in a postal abuse case by tampering with data on a floppy disk seized last year.

"After transferring the data from the floppy disk to a USB memory stick, I confirmed the time and date the files were last updated, but I inadvertently changed the data on the disk," Maeda, 43, was quoted as saying during questioning by the prosecutors office before his arrest on Tuesday.

Special software downloaded via the Internet is suspected to have been used to alter the data. However, sources close to the special investigation division of the prosecutors office have said Maeda was inept at using computers.

Maeda was working on a postal abuse case in which Atsuko Muraki, a former director general at the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, was arrested on suspicion of issuing a fabricated certificate to an "organization for the disabled" so they could cheat a postal discount system.

After Muraki's first hearing was held on Jan. 27, a rumor in the prosecutors office circulated that Maeda had altered data on the floppy disk.

"I suspect that the rumor circulated as [Maeda] asked a colleague with a better knowledge of PCs to help him [alter the data]," an official of the prosecutors office said.

Muraki, 54, was acquitted of a charge that she instructed Tsutomu Kamimura, 41, a former unit chief in the welfare ministry's policy planning division, to fabricate and issue the certificate. Her acquittal was finalized on Tuesday as prosecutors gave up on an appeal to the higher court.

The floppy disk was altered to make the evidence better fit prosecutors' arguments over the alleged fabrication of the certificate. The floppy disk--which recorded the date and time when the certificate was last updated--was considered one of the few pieces of objective evidence within the case.

The special investigation division usually keeps seized evidence in storage. Division members are required to write their names in a special notebook when they remove evidence for further examination.

"In many cases, the chief prosecutor leading a crime investigation keeps evidence in his own office and examines it on a daily basis. I suppose such a system might have encouraged criminal behavior this time," an official of the prosecutors office said.

A special investigation division of the prosecutors office responsible for exposing wrongdoing committed by public officials usually examines any evidence seized during investigations that involves public agencies, considering it could be be a clue in other cases.

Therefore, it is common practice in many cases for prosecutors not to return evidence but to keep it until the ruling is settled.

Maeda is suspected to have altered the floppy disk about a week after Muraki was indicted. Several days after the indictment, he mailed the floppy disk to the mother of Kamimura, whose trial is still in progress.

"It is unbelievable that evidence seized by the special investigation squad was returned by mail," a former official of the special investigation division said.

Kamimura was quoted as saying that he did not ask the prosecutors office to return the disk.

"It is suspected that [Maeda] wanted to heighten the credibility of the data by letting the defendant demand the disk as evidence," one of Kamimura's defenders said.

An investigation team from the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office has been urged to find out whether any of Maeda's colleagues helped him alter the data and to learn why the seized disk was sent to Kamimura's mother in the first place.

Senior prosecutors indicted over coverup of evidence tampering
(Mainichi Japan) October 21, 2010


TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Supreme Public Prosecutors Office indicted two senior prosecutors Thursday for allegedly covering up evidence tampering by one of their subordinates in the investigation of an abuse of a postal discount system.
Hiromichi Otsubo, 57, who headed an elite investigative squad of the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office, and his deputy Motoaki Saga, 49, have consistently denied the allegations, according to their lawyers.
The indictment of Otsubo and Saga marked the latest development in a scandal that has shaken the credibility of Japan's judicial system. They were also dismissed as part of disciplinary action by the Justice Ministry.
The ministry also reprimanded the two prosecutors' former supervisors at the district office including chief prosecutor Takashi Kobayashi, 59, his predecessor Masaharu Miura, 62, and former deputy chief Hideaki Tamai, 59, for having failed to perform their supervisory roles.
Kobayashi and Tamai, now deputy chief prosecutor at the Osaka High Public Prosecutors Office, will resign soon, while Miura, now superintendent prosecutor at the Fukuoka High Public Prosecutors Office, will step down subject to approval at a Cabinet meeting, ministry sources said.
Hiroki Kunii, 35, a prosecutor at the Osaka district office, was also punished with a one-month salary cut for failing to take action after Tsunehiko Maeda, 43, told him he had tampered with the evidence.
Prosecutor General Hiroshi Obayashi apologized to Justice Minister Minoru Yanagida for the scandal, saying he would like to make all-out efforts to restore people's trust in prosecutorial authority.
The supreme prosecutors office suspects Otsubo and Saga instructed Maeda in February to report his alleged evidence tampering as an accident, despite believing it had been intentional.
Maeda has already been indicted and fired for allegedly altering data on a floppy disk confiscated in the investigation of the postal abuse case involving Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry officials.
The top prosecutors office is expected to finish compiling a report within this year on the flawed investigation, which led to the indictment of a senior health ministry official who was later acquitted, while setting up a third-party panel to look into the scandal.


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Prosecutors to lose jobs over alleged coverup of evidence tampering
16th October 2010



The Justice Ministry plans to dismiss two prosecutors arrested on suspicion of covering up evidence allegedly tampered by one of their subordinates, a prosecutorial source said Friday.

The disciplinary action could come soon, possibly next Thursday, when their detention period runs out short of indictment, the source said.

Hiromichi Otsubo, 57, who headed an elite investigative squad of the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office, and his deputy, Motoaki Saga, 49, have denied any wrongdoing in the case, which has shocked the nation and shaken the powerful law-enforcement authorities.

If the prosecutors lose their jobs, their lawyers are likely to follow up by filing a complaint with the National Personnel Authority to have the action invalidated.

The ministry is also likely to take disciplinary action against their former supervisors by the end of this month for failing to perform their supervisory roles, while implementing a personnel shuffle on a nationwide scale to revamp the organization, according to the source.

Takashi Kobayashi and Hideaki Tamai were the No. 1 and 2 at the district prosecutors office when the dismissed prosecutor, Tsunehiko Maeda, is alleged to have altered data on a floppy disk confiscated in a criminal case involving the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

Meanwhile on Friday, the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office, which is investigating the scandal, asked Takumi Nakao, the then head of the Osaka High Public Prosecutors Office, for the first time to determine how high up the prosecutorial hierarchy reports on Maeda’s case had reached.

‘‘I learned about the tampering in news reports and was surprised,’’ Nakao previously told Kyodo News.

Otsubo and Saga were arrested Oct 1 on suspicion of covering up Maeda’s alleged alteration of the floppy disk data. They are suspected of covering up his act by instructing him to tell senior prosecution officials that he ‘‘accidentally’’ rewrote the data despite knowing that he had changed it intentionally.

Maeda is charged with rewriting the data-update date of a file on the disk to June 8, 2004, from the original June 1, 2004, on July 13, 2009, by using a personal computer and file property-editing software, according to the indictment.

Three days later, Maeda returned the tampered disk to a welfare ministry official from whom prosecutors had confiscated it. He apparently altered the data in the hope that a related criminal trial would go smoothly, according to the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office.

With the rewritten date, the disk apparently served to back the prosecution’s case that the official acted under the instruction of his supervisor in connection with the misuse of a postal discount system for the handicapped.

Maeda was dismissed by the Justice Ministry just prior to the indictment on Oct 11.

The supervisor, Atsuko Muraki, had been arrested and indicted over the case but was acquitted of involvement in a Sept 10 court ruling.


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Arrested prosecutor accepts interview with Kyodo reporter
5th October, 2010


In an exceptional move, a senior prosecutor arrested over alleged involvement in evidence-tampering was allowed to meet Monday with a Kyodo News reporter at the Osaka detention house, where he said he would explain what he knows ‘‘in a straightforward manner’’ in court if indicted.

Suspects in detention who deny charges are usually only allowed to meet with their lawyers.

Motoaki Saga, 49, former deputy chief of the special investigation squad of the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office, was arrested Friday by the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office on suspicion of covering up the alleged destruction of evidence by his subordinate during an investigation into a postal abuse scandal.

His former supervisor, Hiromichi Otsubo, 57, was also arrested with him over the allegations involving another prosecutor, Tsunehiko Maeda, 43, who was arrested last month on suspicion of tampering with data stored on a confiscated floppy disk to improve the chances of a former health ministry bureaucrat accused in the postal abuse case being found guilty.

The Supreme Public Prosecutors Office had demanded that Saga and Otsubo only be allowed interviews with their lawyers, but the Osaka District Court ruled against them, enabling Saga to see the Kyodo reporter.

During the interview, Saga suggested he is resigned to being indicted, saying it is ‘‘unlikely’’ that prosecutors will not bring charges against a person they have arrested. ‘‘I know it as I have done it,’’ he said.

Asked if he will keep insisting on his innocence during court hearings, Saga said, ‘‘I will explain what I know in a straightforward manner, although I have been questioned about what I don’t know in one way or another.’’ He also said he would wait and see how his explanations are judged in court.

Referring to Otsubo, his former supervisor at the special investigation squad in Osaka, Saga said he is not denying the charges just to protect Otsubo.

On his life at the detention house, Saga said, ‘‘I don’t know what time it is as I don’t have a watch here. I don’t read newspapers, either.’‘

The Kyodo News reporter applied for the interview and Saga accepted his request. The interview lasted for about 10 minutes.

Saga headed an investigative department at the Kobe District Public Prosecutors Office and Otsubo was deputy chief prosecutor at the Kyoto District Public Prosecutors Office before their arrests, but both were removed from their posts.

The heath ministry bureaucrat was acquitted and has resumed her work as a government official.

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2 prosecutors arrested over data tampering in postal abuse case

2nd October, 2010
TOKYO


Japan’s highest prosecutors office said Friday it has arrested two senior prosecutors on suspicion of covering up alleged destruction of evidence by their subordinate during an investigation into a postal abuse scandal.

The two prosecutors—Hiromichi Otsubo, 57, and Motoaki Saga, 49—have denied the allegations, prosecution sources said.

‘‘The arrests of senior prosecutors are extremely regrettable and we offer our deepest apologies to members of the public,’’ said Tetsuo Ito, deputy chief prosecutor of the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office, during a press conference held to announce their arrests.

They followed the arrest last month of Tsunehiko Maeda, 43, who is suspected of tampering with data stored on a confiscated floppy disk to improve the chances of a former health ministry bureaucrat, indicted over the matter, being found guilty in court, creating the worst scandal to hit Japan’s prosecutorial authorities. The bureaucrat was acquitted in a recent court ruling.

Otsubo and Saga, who were the chief and deputy chief of the special investigation department of the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office at the time, are suspected of hindering the prosecution of Maeda, the sources said.

If the allegations are true, it would show that the Osaka prosecutors office ‘‘systematically’’ manipulated materials to falsely accuse the bureaucrat, said the Japan Federation of Bar Associations in a statement commenting on the latest development.

Otsubo was the deputy chief prosecutor at the Kyoto District Public Prosecutors Office and Saga headed an investigative department at the Kobe District Public Prosecutors Office before Friday’s arrest, but the top prosecutors office said it had transferred the two to the general department of the Osaka High Public Prosecutors Office as of Friday.

Meanwhile, the investigators are considering questioning the former head of the Osaka high prosecutors office, Takumi Nakao, as a witness in connection with the data-tampering scandal, the sources said. In June this year, Nakao retired as the top prosecutor of the Osaka office that controls the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office under its wing.

Earlier Friday, investigators from the highest prosecutors office resumed questioning Otsubo and Saga, after starting Tuesday to question the two.

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22 at Osaka prosecutors office violated Public Service Act over 3 year period
(Mainichi Japan) October 15, 2010


OSAKA -- A total of 22 officials at the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office were subject to disciplinary action under the National Public Service Act or were reprimanded according to internal regulations between the April 2007 and May 2010, it has been learned.

The disciplinary actions came to light following a review of records that had been publicly disclosed following a Mainichi request for their release. Citing privacy concerns, the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office has not revealed the names or affiliations of the staffers, nor whether they were clerks or prosecutors.

Among those who were punished for violating the act, two received pay cuts, one of whom fondled a woman out shopping in Osaka in November 2007. The other was found to have repeatedly scribbled graffiti in restroom stalls in an Osaka public transport station between February and March of 2007.

Two other staffers received official warnings according to the act, including one who exceeded a speed of over 61 kilometers per hour while driving on a road in the Osaka Prefecture city of Hirakata with a speed limit of 50 at around 2 a.m. in July 2009. The other staffer was punished for taking extra days of leave between 2006 and 2008 by falsely claiming that relatives had died.

The records do not indicate whether or not the staffers were arrested, and the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office has said that it will not release any more information on the cases.

Among staff who were disciplined based on internal regulations, two were involved in a case in June 2009 in which a suspect was wrongfully detained for 10 days though a judge's seal had not been obtained on the detention warrant. In a separate case, three staff were punished for unlawfully detaining a suspect for nine days after requesting a detention warrant for a charge that differed from that on the arrest warrant.

There were two cases of items going missing, including a memory card from a game console that had been submitted as evidence, and records regarding a 2007 case involving a violation of the Stimulants Control Law.

In 2008, two cases ended without indictment due to staff failing to confirm the statute of limitations; four staff were punished for their involvement. In one case in 2006, staff forgot to send an appeal waiver drawn up by the prosecution to the court, forcing prosecutors to erroneously go through sentencing procedures.

The Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office is already reeling over the Sept. 21 arrest of one of its prosecutors on suspicion of tampering with evidence.


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大阪地検:証拠紛失も 拘置ミスなど、3年で22人処分

 大阪地検の検事や事務官ら職員計22人が07年4月~今年5月、国家公務員法に基づく懲戒処分や内部規定による厳重注意処分などを受けていたことが分かった。地検特捜部元主任検事が証拠隠滅罪で起訴されたが、ずさんな管理によって証拠品のメモリーカードを紛失したケースもあった。地検は22人について「個人情報にかかわる」として、名前、所属部署、検事か事務官か、事件内容などは明らかにしていない。

 毎日新聞が情報公開請求し、大阪地検が開示した資料で判明した。

 懲戒処分は減給2人、戒告2人。減給は、07年11月、大阪市内で買い物客の女性を触った職員▽07年2~3月、大阪市内の交通機関のトイレの個室壁面に、油性ペンで繰り返し落書きをした職員。

 戒告は、昨年7月の午前2時ごろ、大阪府枚方市内で制限速度(50キロ)を61キロ超える速度で車を運転した職員▽06~08年、親族が死亡したと虚偽申告して、特別休暇を不正取得した職員。開示文書には、職員が検挙されたかどうかは記されておらず、地検は「開示した以上のことは説明しない」としている。

 厳重注意処分と注意処分を受けたのは18人。

 拘置の手続きに関するミスは2件あり、昨年6月、裁判官の押印がないまま拘置状を執行し、10日間にわたり容疑者を不当に拘置した職員2人▽逮捕状の容疑内容と異なる内容で拘置請求し、9日間不当に拘置した職員3人(時期不明)。「紛失」事案も2件。証拠品であるゲーム機のメモリーカードを紛失(時期不明)▽07年、覚せい剤取締法違反事件の確定記録を紛失。

 08年には公訴時効の確認を怠り、起訴できなかった事案が2件続き、計4人が処分された。06年には、検事作成の上訴放棄申立書を裁判所へ送り忘れ、判決が確定していないのに検事に刑を執行する誤った手続きをさせたケースもあった。【久保聡、村松洋】

Senior prosecutors indicted over coverup of evidence tampering
(Mainichi Japan) October 21, 2010
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Supreme Public Prosecutors Office indicted two senior prosecutors Thursday for allegedly covering up evidence tampering by one of their subordinates in the investigation of an abuse of a postal discount system.
Hiromichi Otsubo, 57, who headed an elite investigative squad of the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office, and his deputy Motoaki Saga, 49, have consistently denied the allegations, according to their lawyers.
The indictment of Otsubo and Saga marked the latest development in a scandal that has shaken the credibility of Japan's judicial system. They were also dismissed as part of disciplinary action by the Justice Ministry.
The ministry also reprimanded the two prosecutors' former supervisors at the district office including chief prosecutor Takashi Kobayashi, 59, his predecessor Masaharu Miura, 62, and former deputy chief Hideaki Tamai, 59, for having failed to perform their supervisory roles.
Kobayashi and Tamai, now deputy chief prosecutor at the Osaka High Public Prosecutors Office, will resign soon, while Miura, now superintendent prosecutor at the Fukuoka High Public Prosecutors Office, will step down subject to approval at a Cabinet meeting, ministry sources said.
Hiroki Kunii, 35, a prosecutor at the Osaka district office, was also punished with a one-month salary cut for failing to take action after Tsunehiko Maeda, 43, told him he had tampered with the evidence.
Prosecutor General Hiroshi Obayashi apologized to Justice Minister Minoru Yanagida for the scandal, saying he would like to make all-out efforts to restore people's trust in prosecutorial authority.
The supreme prosecutors office suspects Otsubo and Saga instructed Maeda in February to report his alleged evidence tampering as an accident, despite believing it had been intentional.
Maeda has already been indicted and fired for allegedly altering data on a floppy disk confiscated in the investigation of the postal abuse case involving Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry officials.
The top prosecutors office is expected to finish compiling a report within this year on the flawed investigation, which led to the indictment of a senior health ministry official who was later acquitted, while setting up a third-party panel to look into the scandal.



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Top Osaka prosecutor to resign over data tampering, coverup
Tuesday 19th October, 2010


Takashi Kobayashi, the chief prosecutor at the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office, intends to resign to take the blame for the fabrication and coverup of investigative evidence involving subordinates, sources close to the matter said Monday.

Hideaki Tamai, former No. 2 at the Osaka office who now serves as deputy chief prosecutor at the Osaka High Public Prosecutors Office, has also expressed intention to step down from the post, the sources said.

The Justice Ministry has decided by Monday to cut salaries for Kobayashi and Tamai, both 59, as a punishment over the case.

The ministry has already decided to dismiss Hiromichi Otsubo, 57, who headed a special investigative squad of the Osaka prosecutors office, and his 49-year-old deputy, Motoaki Saga, who were both arrested on suspicion of covering up proof allegedly fabricated by one of their subordinates—Tsunehiko Maeda—when their detention period expires Thursday.

Maeda, who led a criminal investigation into a postal discount system abuse case involving the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, was indicted last week for tampering with data on a floppy disk seized during the probe.


広告会社社長と元取締役に求刑 郵便不正事件


 障害者団体向けの郵便割引制度が企業のダイレクトメール(DM)の発送に悪用された郵便不正事件で、企業の担当者らと共謀して郵送料約31億円を免れた として、郵便法違反と法人税法違反の罪に問われた広告会社「新生企業」(現・伸正、大阪市)社長の宇田敏代被告(54)と元取締役の阿部徹被告(57)の 論告求刑公判が27日、大阪地裁であった。
 検察側は、覚せい剤取締法違反(使用)などの罪でも起訴された宇田被告に懲役2年6カ月罰金6400万円、阿部被告に懲役2年罰金6400万円をそれぞ れ求刑した。判決は12月1日。
 横田信之裁判長は7日の前回公判で、阿部被告が捜査段階で政治家との関係を説明するなどした供述調書12通に関し、大阪地検特捜部の当時の主任検事 (37)が阿部被告を脅すなどして供述させた疑いがあるとして証拠採用しなかった。宇田、阿部両被告は起訴内容を認めているが、弁護側は地裁決定を踏ま え、最終弁論で「検察が勝手なストーリー通りに供述させるために過酷な取り調べをした点を考慮してほしい」などとして執行猶予付き判決を求めた。
 検察側は論告で、宇田、阿部両被告が2006〜08年、家電量販大手「ベスト電器」(福岡市)のDMを自称障害者団体「白山会」(東京)の定期刊行物と 装うなどし、約2600万通の発送に関与したと指摘した。

Lax rules on evidence led to prosecutor's crime
The Yomiuri Shimbun
(Oct. 18, 2010)


Prosecution authorities' lax management of evidence enabled a then prosecutor to falsify data on a floppy disk, legal and judicial authorities have said.

Public prosecutors offices have no set rules on the handling of electronic data, and it has been left to each prosecutor as to how to manage data used in investigations or as evidence in a trial.

As electronic data is being presented as evidence during an increasing number of trials, measures to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents are urgently needed.

Tsunehiko Maeda, a former prosecutor of the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office's special investigation squad, has been indicted on a charge of destroying evidence, as he falsified data on a floppy disk during an investigation of an alleged postal fee scandal.

According to the indictment, Maeda inserted the floppy disk into a personally owned computer in his office and falsified data using installed software.

The Justice Ministry says public prosecutors offices abide by an internal rule whereby prosecutors preserve evidence in its original state because it can be used when proving the truth in criminal trials.

But no such rules exist on how to treat electronic data. Under the current system, each prosecutor decides how the data should be treated and there is no regulatory system to check if it has been altered.

Yet police authorities have set some rules.

Based on an edict issued by the National Police Agency in 1995, the Metropolitan Police Department established a rule that when confiscated, electronic data should be copied or printouts should be made for analysis. MPD officials must refrain from touching original materials such as memory devices.

The MPD stores such materials in a safe. If officials need access to the originals, they have to record their names on a list.

A senior MPD official said, "It's difficult to falsify evidence under this system."

According to UBIC Inc., a Tokyo-based information security company that analyzes electronic data upon request from investigative and other authorities, U.S. investigative authorities record 32-digit character strings called hash values when they make copies of confiscated electronic data.

Because altering the data changes the character strings, U.S. authorities can confirm whether electronic data has been tampered with.

U.S. courts are highly unlikely to accept any electronic data as evidence if its hash value has changed. The measure contributes to prevention of falsification by investigation authorities, UBIC said.

A senior official of the Justice Ministry said prosecutors' attitude toward evidence has been "lax."

"From now on, we need to change how evidence is managed. For example, prosecutors should not have access to any original material and instead should work with copied or printed data," the official said.

Prof. Kiyoshi Yasutomi, a criminal law researcher at Keio University and an expert on information-related crimes, said: "Despite the importance of electronic data, it's not immediately visible to the eye and can easily be altered. Such data should be treated more carefully then other evidence. A system to prevent falsification needs to be established."