• Kyodo

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Three Aichi Prefectural Police officers fabricated the confiscation of a handgun last July in an attempt to make it appear that the firearm, which had actually been seized in Osaka, was found in Aichi Prefecture, it was learned Friday.

According to prefectural police officials, they include a 54-year-old assistant inspector and 52-year-old sergeant.

The three have admitted to the allegations, saying they wanted to improve handgun confiscation figures for the Aichi force. They have been suspended and the case, an potential violation of the firearms control law, was sent to prosecutors later Friday.

The officers are suspected of unlawfully possessing a firearm found in an Osaka coin locker in June because they transported the weapon by car to Aichi Prefecture, according to investigators.

They then planted the handgun on the grounds of a shrine in Okazaki and phoned in an anonymous tip to the Okazaki Police Station saying there was a gun on the premises.

The force has admonished five officers who were the suspects’ superiors at the time of the incident for their failure to properly supervise their subordinates, Aichi police officials said.

The key to the coin locker where the gun was initially discovered was turned in to a Nagoya customs official by a suspect in a customs investigation, the police officials said. This official then contacted the sergeant, who was in charge of handling information at the firearms control section of the Aichi force at the time.

Police were not sure who owned the handgun found in the locker, and the Aichi officers did not have a confiscation warrant because they were unsure of the validity of the information.

Under the circumstances, they should have informed Osaka Prefectural Police of the weapon, but they did not do so and instead decided to make it appear as if the gun had been found in their prefecture, Aichi police said.

The incident came to light after the suspect in the customs case was arrested by Osaka police on suspicion of violating the firearms control law and explained how he gave the key to the customs official.

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