• Kyodo News


Tokyo police on Tuesday gave to prosecutors their case against nine people, including four active sumo wrestlers and one former wrestler, suspected of illegally gambling on professional baseball games.

It is the first police action targeting active wrestlers who allegedly engaged in the actual betting rather than the organizers of the gambling.

The wrestlers are Shironoryu, 27, from Mongolia, and Daido, 28, from Tokyo, both in the second-tier juryo division, and two in the lower tier. The former wrestler was also in the third-tier makushita division.

The other four people include Yoshihiko Yasuda, 46, a senior member of the Yamaguchi-gumi underworld syndicate.

Pursuing gambling charges is usually difficult unless offenders are caught red-handed, but police plan to pursue indictments against the nine based on their text messages, which underscored their relations with the betting organizers, sources said.

The gambling was allegedly organized by Sadahide Furuichi, 34, a former juryo from the Onomatsu stable, and three others who are under arrest, the sources said. The nine are suspected of placing their bets via Furuichi and others starting in April 2009.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office will decide later whether to move forward on any indictments.

Former ozeki Kotomitsuki, who was fired from the Japan Sumo Association for illegal gambling, has admitted to taking part in a separate baseball betting scam. The police may turn his case over to prosecutors as well, the sources said.

Hanaregoma, chairman of the sumo association, told reporters that the sport’s governing body will keep a close watch on the investigation.

Stablemaster Sakaigawa apologized over the alleged involvement of Shironoryu, his disciple, in the scandal and said the Mongolian was remorseful.

The JSA decided Monday night to form a panel to prevent bout-fixing. It will consist of five sumo coaches and three people from outside the sport, to be selected at a later date.

A special investigative team looking into the match-fixing, in which 14 people have been implicated so far, made its second report to the JSA board Monday but said it had not yet uncovered all the facts.

As a result, punishment for juryo wrestlers Chiyohakuho and Kiyoseumi, sumo elder Takenawa and lower-division wrestler Enatsukasa, each of whom has either confessed or been linked to rigged bouts, has been postponed.

The special investigative panel wrapped up a report on hearings of 78 wrestlers who were in the juryo division or above since the 2009 Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

Shigeru Ito, who heads the panel and holds a special position at Waseda University, told reporters following the JSA meeting, “We did not receive any suspicious answers from the 78 people questioned” aside from the 14 under investigation.

Ito said the questioning of the 14 who have been implicated will continue.

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