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Three former Okinawa Prefectural Police officers pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to alter evidence in a suspected drunk-driving case by adding breath-freshener spray containing alcohol to a breath sample.

In the first session of the three men’s trial at the Naha District Court, former senior officer Masaru Arakaki, 38, and sergeants Senkichi Unten, 46, and Kaoru Arakaki, 33, admitted to charges of altering evidence by using the spray to increase the level of alcohol in the breath sample, which was taken from a 19-year-old driver in March.

Prosecutors said the three altered the sample because they wanted to improve their ticketing records as the prefectural police were cracking down on traffic violations.

The prosecutors also said the three feared that if the alcohol level in the man’s sample was under the legal limit, evidence-examination officers would complain.

According to the indictment, while on patrol in the city of Okinawa at around 3:30 a.m. on March 27, the three stopped the man, suspecting he was driving drunk.

After sampling his breath, they gave him a ticket. But following their return to the police station, the officers realized the amount of alcohol in the sample was just under the legal threshold.

One of the three applied the spray to his own mouth and breathed into the breath sampler, which still contained the sample, the indictment said.

Two weeks later, the three submitted the altered evidence to an evidence-examination officer.