The Tokyo High Court on Friday upheld a ruling that found a former gangster guilty of selling illegal drugs based on evidence obtained under the first application of a controversial law authorizing wiretapping.

Presiding Judge Kunio Harada said, “It is possible to apply the wiretapping law in cases when it is difficult to identify accomplices through interrogation and raids.”

The focus of the deliberations at the high court was whether intercepting phone calls is permissible for the purpose of identifying accomplices.

Koyo Narita, 36, was sentenced by the Tokyo District Court in September to 5 1/2 years in prison for engaging in illicit sales of drugs in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture between October 2001 and February 2002. He was also ordered to pay fines totaling 1.22 million yen.

Narita’s lawyer said the high court ruling was the first to uphold an interception of communications.

The lawyer expressed concern that with the court’s decision, wiretapping could now be used in any kind of criminal case when it should only be used for exceptional cases.

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