• Kyodo

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The nation’s highest prosecutor’s office is poised to arrest two supervisors of a prosecutor accused of altering data seized in a postal abuse investigation, investigative sources said Tuesday.

In a rare criminal case involving prosecutors, facing arrest are Hiromichi Otsubo and Motoaki Saga, the former chief and deputy chief of the special investigation department of the Osaka District Public Prosecutor’s Office.

They are suspected of hindering an investigation into prosecutor Tsunehiko Maeda, who has already been arrested.

Otsubo is currently the deputy chief prosecutor at the Kyoto District Public Prosecutor’s Office while Saga heads an investigative department at the Kobe District Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Investigators at the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office have obtained testimony from various personnel at the Osaka office that Otsubo and Saga were aware that Maeda, 43, intentionally altered the data stored on a floppy disk seized in the postal abuse case, the sources said.

They said that some of the testimony indicates Otsubo and Saga covered up Maeda’s acts when reporting to their bosses — the chief and deputy chief of the Osaka District Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Saga, then deputy chief of the investigative department, was reportedly told by four of Maeda’s colleagues in a meeting Jan. 30 at his office that Maeda tampered with the disk data.

Two days later, on Feb. 1, Saga and the four prosecutors met again at Saga’s office, and Saga allegedly reported Maeda’s deeds to Otsubo at his boss’s office next door.

Later, Otsubo, accompanied by Saga and one of the four prosecutors, met Takashi Kobayashi, the chief prosecutor at the Osaka district office, and Kobayashi’s deputy Hideaki Tamai, currently the deputy chief of the Osaka High Public Prosecutor’s Office.

But Otsubo at the time rejected advice offered by Maeda’s colleague to report the truth, an allegation that aroused suspicion that Otsubo and Saga may have deliberately neglected to report that Maeda tampered with the data, the sources said.

Maeda, who led an investigation into the postal abuse case, was arrested Sept. 21 on suspicion of destroying evidence by altering the floppy disk data.

Maeda’s arrest followed the Sept. 10 Osaka District Court decision that acquitted Atsuko Muraki, a senior official of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, of involvement in the case in which a bogus organization abused the mail discount system for disabled people.

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