Four get apology for wrongful arrest

Police admit suspects didn't know PCs were compromised

JIJI

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.