• Kyodo

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A TV reporter and a company employee in Fukuoka Prefecture were arrested Sunday on suspicion of raping a high school student in November, according to police.

The suspects were identified as Hiroyuki Kitamura, 29, a reporter at RKB Mainichi Broadcasting Corp. and a resident of the city of Fukuoka, and Toshio Tashima, a 39-year-old gas station employee residing in Onojo, Fukuoka Prefecture.

Gang rape was newly incorporated as a crime in the Penal Code in January 2005 and carries a minimum prison term of four years, more severe than the three-year minimum set for rape.

The two men are suspected of bringing a 17-year-old girl from Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, whom they came to know through a mobile phone dating service, by car from JR Fukuoka Station to a hotel in Onojo on Nov. 15.

There they allegedly raped the girl, threatening her by saying they would “bury her on a mountain” if she screamed for help.

Both suspects have admitted to the allegations, according to police. They said they became acquainted through an Internet bulletin board service.

The broadcaster apologized for the incident and punitively dismissed Kitamura later Sunday.