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Suspect being held at police station in Osaka Prefecture escapes after meeting lawyer

JIJI, Kyodo

A 30-year-old man suspected of theft, rape and other charges escaped from a police station in Tondabayashi, Osaka Prefecture, on Sunday.

Junya Hida, who had been detained at Tondabayashi Police Station since June 15, is believed to have escaped from the visitors’ room of the detention facility on the second floor by breaking an acrylic plate separating the detainee and the visitor, informed sources said.

Osaka Prefectural Police released a mug shot of Hida and put him on a nationwide wanted list, while 3,000 officers have been deployed in the search for him.

According to a spokesperson at Tondabayashi Police Station, Hida met with his attorney in the visiting room from around 7:30 p.m. Sunday. When an officer checked the room at around 9:45 p.m., they found he had disappeared.

As the acrylic plate in the room was largely detached from its frame, Hida is likely to have sneaked out through the space between the frame and the dislocated plate, the sources said.

Hida, who was not wearing handcuffs, met the lawyer alone.

A police officer was supposed to unlock Hida’s side of the room to lead him back to the detention house after the meeting was over, but the attorney left the room at around 8 p.m. without informing the police station that the session had ended.

A warning alarm on the door used by the lawyer to enter and exit the room was not functioning because the batteries had been removed, police said.

Visiting lawyers usually notify police when they are about to depart.

Police suspect Hida fled through the unlocked door used by the lawyer after the meeting, the sources said.

He is believed to have stolen a pair of white sneakers belonging to an officer that were left in an adjoining room and used them during the escape, according to the sources. The sandals he was wearing earlier were later found in the police station’s parking lot.

A police officer who was standing in front of the door on Hida’s side did not notice any unusual activities as the room is soundproof. Nobody was stationed in front of the door on the lawyer’s side.

Hida, who is 163 cm tall, was wearing a black tracksuit jacket and gray sweatpants, according to police. He has long black hair, a scar from an operation on his left arm and a tattoo of an animal on his left calf.

He was first arrested in June on suspicion that he raped a woman in her 20s in Osaka Prefecture. He was later indicted on charges of rape and theft as well as robbery resulting in injury in a separate case.

A fresh arrest warrant was handed to Hida on Wednesday on the charge of attempted rape, while police are also looking into his possible involvement in the burning of a police vehicle in early May.

Records show that he lives in Matsubara, Osaka Prefecture.