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Prosecutors demanded a three-year prison term Monday for a former Foreign Ministry official accused of swindling the state out of about 21 million yen by padding limousine fees related to the 2000 Group of Eight summit in Okinawa.

In demanding the prison term for Hiromu Kobayashi, 46, former assistant director in the office of the deputy director general for general affairs at the Economic Affairs Bureau, prosecutors said that the public’s trust in civil servants as a whole was greatly diminished by the incident.

The Tokyo District Court is scheduled to hand down its ruling May 28.

Prosecutors called Kobayashi the principal perpetrator, saying he planned the crime by abusing his position as head of general affairs and accounting for the summit.

They demanded prison terms of between 12 and 18 months for Kobayashi’s subordinate, Tsutomu Okuma, and for Seiji Kobayashi, former managing director of Hinomaru Limousine Co., and Yuji Takizawa, head of the company’s Akasaka office.

According to the indictment, the four swindled the state out of the funds from March to September 2000 by padding bills for limousine rentals associated with the G-8 summit, mainly through taxi vouchers.

More than 11 million yen of the total was channeled to Kobayashi and Okuma, and more than 1.5 million yen was used by officials of the limousine firm, according to the indictment.

Kobayashi and Okuma had worked under former Foreign Ministry logistics chief Katsutoshi Matsuo, 56, who was sacked in January last year over another fraud case related to logistics work at the ministry.

In that case, the Tokyo District Court sentenced Matsuo, a key figure in a spate of public fund misappropriations that rocked the ministry, to seven years and six months in prison for swindling 500 million yen in discretionary government funds from 1997 to 1999.

Prosecutors have demanded that Akio Asakawa, 57, former assistant director at the ministry’s European Affairs Bureau, serve a four-year prison term for defrauding the government out of more than 400 million yen by padding hotel charges and then personally using the money to stay at the hotel.

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