Oshio trial avoids link to death

by Setsuko Kamiya

Prosecutors demanded an 18-month prison term Friday for actor and singer Manabu Oshio, who pleaded guilty to using the illegal synthetic drug MDMA in August.

Oshio, 31, admitted at the Tokyo District Court to taking the illegal drugs, also known as Ecstacy, on Aug. 2 at an apartment in Tokyo’s Roppongi district with a woman who apparently subsequently died from them. He is charged with violating the narcotics and psychotropics control law.

“I will never repeat the same mistake again. I have betrayed many people, my family, friends and fans, and I am very sorry,” Oshio said at his one-day trial session.

His attorneys asked for a suspended sentence, claiming their client regrets his crime and has already caused considerable damage to his career and his family. The court will hand down a sentence Nov. 2.

The actor had been linked to the woman’s death, as it was initially reported that he failed to call an ambulance when he noticed something was wrong with her after she took the drugs.

Although the death was not raised during the trial, Oshio said authorities had visited his home for a voluntary interview regarding her death.

During the trial Friday, a nervous-looking Oshio, dressed in a dark gray suit, admitted to having taken MDMA in the United States three times while out clubbing with friends prior to his arrest. The last time he took the drug in the U.S. was in July, he admitted. “I wasn’t thinking much and took it with some alcohol,” Oshio said.

Prosecutors questioned the credibility of his testimony that the woman had brought the MDMA tablets to his apartment and offered them to him, pointing out that he had access to the drugs in the U.S. just weeks before the incident.

They also questioned Oshio about the contents of an e-mail exchange with the woman in which Oshio asked whether she “wanted it” as soon as she got to his apartment. Prosecutors repeatedly asked whether the exchange referred to the drugs. Oshio claimed it meant having sex.

Defense attorneys pointed out that no drugs were found in any of Oshio’s belongings seized by police, including supplements he brought back from the U.S.

Previous reports said Oshio’s manager made an emergency call nearly three hours after the actor noticed the woman had started to behave abnormally and then lost consciousness, before dying.