Tokyo prosecutors decided once again Thursday not to indict Democratic Party of Japan kingpin Ichiro Ozawa over false financial reporting by his political fund management body in 2007, citing a lack of evidence.
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office made the decision Thursday after reinvestigating the 68-year-old lawmaker’s involvement in Rikuzankai’s alleged misdeeds in the 2007 political funds report.
While Thursday’s decision finally ends one probe in the long drawn-out affair, Ozawa still faces indictment over an older case involving Rikuzankai’s funds reports from 2004 and 2005 that was dismissed once but is now under review.
The prosecutors decided to reopen the 2007 case after one of the six independent judicial panels attached to the Tokyo District Court concluded on July 15 that the decision not to file charges against Ozawa was unjust.
At that time, the Tokyo No. 1 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution urged prosecutors to reopen the case, stating it was unnatural to judge that Ozawa’s aides unilaterally falsified the funds report without his approval.
Since then, prosecutors have questioned Ozawa four times, most recently on Sept. 18. Ozawa has denied involvement each time.
Meanwhile, a separate panel is on its second and final review of the prosecutors’ decision not to indict Ozawa over the 2004 and 2005 political funds reports.
The Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution, a panel of 11 citizens, is expected to resolve the 2004-2005 case once and for all by the end of October.
If eight of the 11 members decide in favor of indictment, however, a team of court-appointed lawyers will act as prosecutors and file criminal charges against Ozawa.
In February, the prosecutors decided not to charge Ozawa over the alleged falsification of the 2004, 2005 and 2007 funds reports submitted by Rikuzankai due to lack of evidence, despite questioning him twice in January.
A civic group then asked the inquest panels to review the prosecution’s Feb. 4 and Feb. 23 decisions.
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