Police have admitted they bungled investigations into online threats sent via virus-infected PCs of unwitting parties and made four wrongful arrests, but denied forcing the four to confess.
The Tokyo, Osaka, Kanagawa and Mie prefectural forces released reports Friday of their probes into the wrongful arrests earlier this year of four people whose computers were initially believed the source of the threats.
The police only realized their error after a suspect claiming to be the true culprit made contact.
The Kanagawa Prefectural Police conceded their questioning of a teenager they wrongfully arrested in July on suspicion of posting an email threat on the Yokohama Municipal Government’s website was inappropriate. They also acknowledged that 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 heavily 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, the report added.
The Metropolitan Police Department admitted in their report that they were unable to detect that the man they wrongfully arrested was making false statements, but added that 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.
And according to the Osaka police, their investigators failed to validate the confession made by the man they wrongfully arrested. Their report also said investigators lacked the technology and time to analyze all of the data on the suspect’s personal computer.
The four innocent victims 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 by another party.
All of the police departments said they have already apologized to the four people over their wrongful arrests.
Following the release of the reports, the National Police Agency requested that all police forces nationwide learn from the wrongful arrests and make every effort to prevent further bungled investigations.
In October, an unidentified party claiming to be the real culprit behind the threats sent email messages to Tokyo Broadcasting System Television Inc. and a lawyer, providing details of each case. The agency has offered a cash reward of up to ¥3 million for information that could help pinpoint the guilty party.