Wrongful Arrests for threats sent via computers. October 2012
(JIADEP Note: Scary as it could happen to anybody)

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Prosecutors seek to nullify supervision of wrongfully arrested teen


The Japan Times: Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012


YOKOHAMA — Prosecutors on Tuesday asked a family court to nullify its decision to have a 19-year-old male supervised by a juvenile probation officer after they found they had wrongfully charged him over an online threat.

In a rare move, the Yokohama District Public Prosecutor's Office asked the family court to rescind the decision to put the teen on probation in line with the Juvenile Act, which would be tantamount to acquittal in cases involving adults.

The teen was arrested July 1 on suspicion of sending a message from his personal computer to the website of the Yokohama Municipal Government warning of a bomb attack at an elementary school.

On Aug. 15, the family court placed him on probation on the charge of forcibly obstructing business of the Yokohama government and the elementary school.

Investigators came to realize they had wrongly arrested him after an unidentified person sent email to a television station and a lawyer in Tokyo earlier this month claiming to have taken remote control of the teen's personal computers with a special virus.

Tsuguaki Hori, deputy chief prosecutor in Yokohama, offered an apology to the teen, saying it can't be denied that the investigation into his case was "insufficient."

In addition to the teen, three men were wrongfully arrested in Mie, Tokyo and Osaka prefectures in connection with similar online threats believed to be caused by a malicious program enabling a third party to remotely control personal computers.

The Tsu District Public Prosecutor's Office said Tuesday it has decided not to indict the Mie man over an online threat to destroy the Ise Grand Shrine and asked him to cooperate with its probe into the case. The 28-year-old man agreed to do so, according to prosecutors.

The Japan Times: Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012

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Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012

Wrong man: Hiroo Kawahara of the Metropolitan Police Department's Criminal Investigation Bureau speaks to reporters Sunday in the city of Fukuoka after apologizing to a 28-year-old resident who was falsely arrested for email threats sent remotely from his computer.

Four get apology for wrongful arrest

Police admit suspects didn't know PCs were compromised


Tokyo, Osaka, Kanagawa and Mie police have all separately apologized to four men who were believed wrongfully arrested recently for online threats sent via their personal computers, which were found to have been infected with a remote-controlled virus without their knowledge.

Tokyo police, who placed one of the men under arrest, and Osaka police, who collared another, apologized Sunday. Similar apologies were issued earlier by the Kanagawa and Mie forces.

Hiroo Kawahara of the Metropolitan Police Department's Criminal Investigation Bureau and two other MPD officials visited the home of a 28-year-old man in the city of Fukuoka Sunday afternoon and admitted his arrest had been a mistake.

"We are very sorry for causing a great deal of trouble to you," the police officials told the man in a statement.

The man told the officials he hopes they capture the real party behind the online threats, according to Kawahara. The MPD side promised to make every effort to learn who was behind the threats.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor's Office is expected to soon announce the man won't face indictment.

Also on Sunday afternoon, two senior Osaka Prefectural Police officials met with Masaki Kitamura, a 43-year-old animation producer, and his family at a police station and apologized for his wrongful arrest.

The officials vowed to do everything possible to arrest the offender.

The Tokyo police arrested the Fukuoka man on Sept. 1 for allegedly sending an email message to a kindergarten in the capital, threatening to attack the facility. On Sept. 21, the man was dealt a separate arrest for allegedly sending an email threat to an entertainment agency.

He was released Sept. 27. His PC was believed infected with the remote-controlled virus.

The MPD did not investigate the circumstances regarding the PC infection or the sending of the threatening emails because the man had owned up to the wrongdoing.

Kawahara told reporters after the visit to the man's house that the police will investigate how they erred in handling their probe.

After once owning up to the allegations, the Fukuoka man told the MPD later that he lied to protect a woman he lives with, suspecting she had sent the threatening email, according to investigative sources.

The man's PC was believed to have been infected with the virus when he downloaded free software from the website of 2channel, one of the largest Internet forums in Japan, on Aug. 26, the day before the Tokyo kindergarten received the email threat, the sources said.

The Osaka police arrested Kitamura on Aug. 26 on suspicion of posting an online threat of mass murder on the website of the municipal government. The Osaka District Public Prosecutor's Office subsequently charged him.

But prosecutors Friday asked the Osaka District Court to cancel Kitamura's indictment after determining his PC also was infected and thus he, too, was not responsible for the threat. The court the same day canceled the indictment.

Over similar cases involving malicious online messages, Mie police offered an apology to a 28-year-old man Friday for wrongfully arresting him last month for allegedly threatening to blow up Ise Grand Shrine. His PC was found to have been infected with the same virus.

Kanagawa police, who arrested a 19-year-old youth in July on suspicion of threatening to attack an elementary school in a message posted on the website of the city of Yokohama, admitted Saturday the arrest was wrongful and apologized to the suspect.

Computer Threat Wrongful Arrest Case

Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012
Japanese police admit botching online threat probe but deny forcing the confessions made by the innocent


Police admitted Friday they bungled their investigations into online threats sent via virus-infected computers of unwitting parties and thus made four wrongful arrests, realizing their error only after the apparent true culprit made contact, but they denied forcing the four to confess.

The Tokyo, Osaka, Kanagawa and Mie prefectural forces released reports of their investigation into the wrongful arrests earlier this year of four people whose computers had initially appeared to be the source of the online threats.

The Kanagawa Prefectural Police said their questioning of a teenager they wrongfully arrested in July on suspicion of posting an email threat on the Yokohama Municipal Government website was inappropriate. They said the attitude of the investigators "may have bemused the minor" who was arrested, but claimed they did not force the suspect into making the confession provided.

In their report, the Kanagawa police also said they relied too much on the Internet protocol address of the email, failed to fully investigate the case, and assumed the university student was the culprit. The investigators and senior police officials have been penalized based on internal rules, they said.

The Metropolitan Police Department said in their report that they could not detect that the man they wrongfully arrested was making false statements, adding the investigators never forced him to confess.

Mie police meanwhile said they failed to investigate whether the man they arrested had a motive to send the threat.

Osaka police said their investigators failed to validate the confession made by the man they wrongfully arrested. They also said investigators lacked the technology and time to analyze all the data on the man's personal computer.

The four innocent people were arrested between July and September after email threats were sent from their computers, which had been infected with malicious software enabling them to be remotely controlled.

The four police departments said they have already apologized to the victims.

Following the release of the reports, the National Police Agency requested that all police forces learn from the wrongful arrests and make every effort to prevent further mishandling.

In October, an unidentified party, claiming to be the real culprit, sent email messages to Tokyo Broadcasting System Television Inc. and a lawyer, giving details of the cases.

The agency has offered a cash reward of up to ¥3 million for information that could pinpoint the culprit.


Father of falsely arrested teen says reversed court decision doesn't ease family's pain

October 31, 2012(Mainichi Japan)


The father of a teenager who was falsely arrested and put on probation over an online threat against an elementary school says a family court's reversal of action against the boy has not relieved the pain felt by his family.

The Hamamatsu branch of the Shizuoka Family Court reversed a probation order against the 19-year-old on Oct. 30, after it emerged that his computer had been remotely operated and that he had been falsely accused.

But in a statement released through lawyers, the father of the teen said the family's suffering and emotional pain remained.

"Police and prosecutors admitted to the false arrest and the family court annulled the probation order, but the suffering and emotional pain of our son and our family will never be relieved. The saddest thing is, as a parent, having doubted my son's innocence," the statement said.

The father added, "This case highlights inherent, structural problems with police. The police, who should be protecting citizens, unleashed false accusations against an innocent citizen -- and a minor at that -- as a result of inattention in their investigation -- something that should never happen."

Investigative sources told the Mainichi that during questioning by Kanagawa Prefectural Police, investigators alleged that the teen took only two seconds to post the threat against the elementary school. The 19-year-old pointed out that this would have been impossible, but police refused to listen to him, saying that he could have prepared the threat in advance. The topic reportedly did not come up again in the investigation.

In his statement the father said that prefectural police and the Yokohama District Public Prosecutors Office had confronted the boy with a spate of irrational questions, and criticized their technical expertise, saying that the computer skills of the real criminal were "far superior."

The unusual reversal of the family court decision is on par with a formal retrial reversing a finalized guilty verdict against a defendant, and the case shows that both investigative authorities and the court earlier failed to see through the false charges against the 19-year-old. The teen was one of four people falsely arrested by police in four prefectures. In the other three cases, the charges were dropped before a decision was made in court, or no indictment was served in the first place.

When questioned by the Mainichi about the possibility of an apology to the 19-year-old over the false judgment and a probe into the case, a Shizuoka Family Court representative said it was not possible to comment on individual cases.

Toshio Sawanobori, a professor emeritus at Kokugakuin University, said that annulment of action against a defendant is something that should not have to happen.

"I imagine that the false decision was reached because the family court judged the case with a preconceived notion from the investigation results. Young people have a tendency to act in a way to please others, and so a careful approach is needed. The family court should go back to its original stance of approaching investigators' claims with doubt," he said.


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