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The Tokyo District Court sentenced three former executives of the major construction firm Shimizu Corp. to suspended prison terms Tuesday for their involvement in the 1992 bribery of then Ibaraki Gov. Fujio Takeuchi over a prefectural construction project.

The court sentenced former Shimizu Chairman Teruzo Yoshino, 82, to two years in prison, suspended for four years; former Vice Chairman Hiroyuki Kohyama, 74, to 18 months suspended for four years; and former Executive Director Akikazu Matsumoto, 66, to 18 months, suspended for three years.

The three were found guilty of being involved in the paying of 10 million yen to Takeuchi, 82, around Dec. 12, 1992, for his assistance in securing a sewerage construction contract for the firm from the prefectural government and to ask him to help Shimizu obtain more public works contracts, according to the court.

Lawyers for the three said they will appeal the rulings.

Prosecutors had demanded terms of two years for Yoshino and 18 months each for Kohyama and Matsumoto.

The Shimizu bribery case was one of a number of similar scandals that broke in 1994.

Takeuchi is facing trial separately on charges of accepting 95 million yen in bribes from Shimizu and three other construction companies — Hazama Corp., Kajima Corp. and Tobishima Corp. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Explaining his ruling, presiding Judge Yujiro Nakatani said the three executives bore grave criminal responsibility as their conduct caused “irrecoverable public distrust” in the system of public works and the construction industry.

In addition to the sewerage construction contract, the money was to secure the governor’s assistance in winning contracts for the building of a new prefectural government office and medical college, the court said.

While the three Shimizu executives admitted the charges during questioning, they consistently denied their guilt during the trial. Yoshino claimed prosecutors coerced him into making a false confession, while the other executives said they made false confessions to protect their company’s name.

The judge found that their confessions during investigation were legitimate because the three men had no reason to lie.

Standing before the court in navy blue suits, the three executives showed little emotion when sentenced.

Thirty-two people were indicted over the bribery scandals, which broke after Shin Kanemaru, former vice president of the Liberal Democratic Party, was investigated for tax evasion in 1993.

Lower House member Kishiro Nakamura, 51, was also found guilty by the same court in October 1997, receiving an 18-month term and a 10 million yen fine for accepting a 10 million yen bribe from Kajima Corp. He has since appealed his case.

Former Miyagi Gov. Shuntaro Honma, 60, and Sendai Mayor Toru Ishii, 74, also received prison terms in 1997 for accepting bribes from general contractors.

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