URAWA, Saitama Pref. – Saitama Prefectural Police on Monday sent papers to prosecutors on three officers at Ogawa Police Station suspected of forging documents to conceal their alleged mishandling of a heavily drunken man two years ago.
The man died after being left alone in a truck by the officers.
The three officers are inspector Kenichi Watanabe, 51, then chief of the station’s Community Safety Division; Sgt. Yasuji Inoue, 50; and a 45-year-old senior officer who was on night duty on the evening in question.
The same day, the National Police Agency and the prefectural police took disciplinary action against the officers involved, dismissing Watanabe and Inoue. They also handed out punishments to 13 other officers, including a 10-day suspension to the senior officer.
The station chief at the time, who is currently serving under the NPA, was issued a warning in the name of the head of the agency.
According to investigations, the officers fabricated a report that the man, a 55-year-old gardener, had already been dead when police found him on a farm road in the town of Ogawa on Aug. 9, 1998. They destroyed an earlier report describing how they had picked him up and taken him to the station.
Watanabe allegedly ordered the officers to leave the man on the back of a police truck, which had carried the man to the station, investigators said, adding that he was found dead about 90 minutes later.
Although the prefectural police could not prove that the man’s death of a heart attack was a result of the officers’ actions, they sent to prosecutors papers on Watanabe, charging him with professional negligence resulting in death, sensing the gravity of the fact that the man died under police protection.
Kenji Oyama of the prefectural police told a press conference that the force will do its utmost to prevent a similar incident and to recover public trust, apologizing to the family of the victim.
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