Lawyers for former House of Representatives member Muneo Suzuki told the Tokyo District Court on Wednesday that their client is innocent and the bribery charges against him are politically motivated.

Suzuki, 56, and his defense team presented their final argument against the charge that the former Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker received 11 million yen in bribes from two Hokkaido firms in the late 1990s.

“The (prosecutors) investigated the alleged case against Suzuki in line with a government decision to respond to an outburst of public sentiment triggered by media reports that the accused should be politically and socially eliminated,” Suzuki’s counsel told the day’s court session.

Suzuki himself again denied having taken any bribes, although he apologized for “causing public distrust in politics through my arrest.”

Deliberations on the case wrapped up in the day’s session, and the district court is scheduled to hand down a ruling Nov. 5.

Suzuki is charged with receiving 6 million yen from Shimada Kensetsu, a construction firm in Abashiri, in 1997 and 5 million yen from Yamarin, a timber company in Obihiro, in 1998 — both in exchange for political favors to win the firms government contracts.

In the previous session of Suzuki’s trial, prosecutors demanded four years in prison and a fine of 11 million yen, saying the defendant’s actions “debased the status of senior government positions” that he held when allegedly accepting the bribes.

The defense dismissed the charge that Suzuki received a specific request from Yamarin to pressure the Forestry Agency to grant the firm government contracts. Suzuki was deputy chief Cabinet secretary when the alleged bribe was paid.

His defense team claimed that Suzuki “believed the money from Yamarin was merely a congratulatory gift for his appointment as deputy chief Cabinet secretary, just as he had received 3 million yen from the same firm when he became head of the Hokkaido Development Agency in 1997.”

Suzuki did not accept the alleged cash from Tada Kensetsu, the lawyers claimed, adding that he did not receive any request from the company to provide favors to help it win government contracts.

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