• Kyodo

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The trial of a 70-year-old Aichi politician accused of attempting to smuggle illegal drugs out of China last year pleaded innocent at the start of his trial Tuesday at a court in the southern city of Guangzhou.

Takuma Sakuragi, a member of the Inazawa Municipal Assembly in Aichi Prefecture, has denied any wrongdoing since his arrest in December, according to his lawyer.

The trial at the Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court was scheduled to wrap up Wednesday, with a ruling likely to be handed down within three months.

Under Chinese law, the trafficking of 50 grams or more of illegal drugs is punishable by death.

Sakuragi traveled to Guangzhou in October on business for his trading company.

He was taken into custody Oct. 31 after about 3 kg of illegal stimulants was found in his luggage during a baggage check at Guangzhou’s Baiyun International Airport.

Sakuragi, who was on his way back to Japan via Shanghai at the time, has said he did not know the luggage contained the drugs, according to the attorney.

According to Chinese investigations, Sakuragi’s luggage containing the stimulants was given to him by a Malian man who was also indicted but pleaded he did not know what was inside.

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