• Kyodo

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Ehime Prefectural Police do not intend to punish officers who investigated the case of a 51-year-old man who last month was acquitted after being detained for more than a year on a false charge of theft, officials said Friday.

The man, a resident of Ehime Prefecture who has asked the press to withhold his identity, has indicated he will file a damages suit against the state for wrongly accusing him of stealing 500,000 yen from an acquaintance’s bank account.

The inspection office of the prefectural police force concluded Friday that the officers involved in the man’s case failed to conduct an adequate backup investigation. Their conduct, however, cannot be called illegal, the office said.

The Ehime man was arrested in February 1999 on suspicion of stealing a personal seal from a friend’s house in Uwajima, Ehime Prefecture, before withdrawing 500,000 yen from a co-op bank between October 1998 and January 1999.

He was released Feb. 21 after a new suspect was arrested in Kochi Prefecture.

The Matsuyama District Public Prosecutor’s Office then asked the court to acquit the Ehime man. On May 26, the Matsuyama District Court officially acquitted him of the charge and criticized his detention.

During his detention, the man was dismissed from his job and was reportedly unable to see his dying father.

The man initially confessed to the theft during police interrogations, but pleaded innocent in court. He later said he made the confession after a police officer told him that his relatives and colleagues would be investigated unless he confessed, according to the court.

The inspection office of the Ehime force has questioned the officers who interrogated the man and investigated the documents detailing the theft victim’s complaints.

The office concluded that the officers obtained the arrest warrant from the court in accordance with due procedure, but said the investigators depended too much on the man’s initial confession and failed to carry out a sufficient backup probe.

The man recently told a local bar association that he was handcuffed and put into a detention cell even before he was served an arrest warrant.

Kenjiro Kyaku, a senior official of the criminal bureau of the Ehime police, is denying the allegation.