Ex-baseball star Kiyohara freed on ¥5 million bail


Former pro baseball player Kazuhiro Kiyohara was released on ¥5 million bail on Thursday following his arrest last month and subsequent indictment for alleged drug possession and use.

Media failed to capture the face of the 48-year-old celebrity as he left the Metropolitan Police Department building in Tokyo by car, but he apologized and vowed to recover from his plight in a statement issued through his lawyer the same day.

“I apologize from the bottom of my heart. I’m determined to start afresh with a clean slate and straighten myself out without fail,” the former Seibu Lions and Yomiuri Giants slugger said, adding that he planned to stay in hospital to treat his health problems.

Kiyohara was freed on the condition he appear in court as required and stay at designated locations. The first hearing of his trial is slated for May 17 at the Tokyo District Court.

Kiyohara was arrested in a police raid on Feb. 2 on suspicion of possessing stimulant drugs at his apartment in Tokyo’s Minato Ward. He was later served a second arrest warrant for alleged drug use.

According to the indictment, Kiyohara used stimulant drugs at a hotel room in the ward around Feb. 1. He also possessed about 0.2 grams of a stimulant at his apartment on Feb. 2, the indictment said.

His lawyer on Wednesday applied to the district court to release the retired baseball star on bail and the court granted permission on Thursday, apparently deciding that Kiyohara is not a flight risk and unlikely to destroy evidence if freed.

After posting bail to the court in cash, Kiyohara left the police building at around 6:50 p.m. The rear seat of the car where he was apparently sitting was blocked with a curtain.

In the statement, Kiyohara said he wanted to appear before the media to apologize, but was told by police not to do so because it might disrupt traffic near the building where the media had flocked.

“I plan to stay in a hospital for a while for a checkup and treatment of health problems such as diabetes, a chronic illness I suffer from, so I want you to understand that I cannot create a special occasion to apologize to you all.”

He also said he “deeply regretted that he betrayed” many people and promised to become a person that “can do good.”

Kiyohara, who retired in 2008, ranks fifth in Nippon Pro Baseball history with 525 career home runs and sixth with 1,530 RBIs. He last played for the Orix Buffaloes.

Kiyohara appeared on television following his retirement, but was also often a target of the tabloid press over suspicions regarding his drug use, as well as his divorce from his fashion model wife.