The prolonged trial of former Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa marked the first time a Diet member has been tried after being subjected to mandatory indictment by a panel of ordinary citizens who received authorization to review a case prosecutors gave up on.

Legal experts now are split about whether the inquest committee, as the citizen panel is known, can play fairly. The case was taken up even though prosecutors concluded they didn’t have enough evidence to convict Ozawa.

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