• Jiji


A truck driver pleaded guilty to plowing into a line of schoolchildren and killing two of them in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, in the first hearing of his trial on Wednesday.

The 60-year-old driver, Hiroshi Umezawa, has been charged with dangerous driving resulting in death and injury. “I think the charges are right,” he said while at the Chiba District Court.

Public prosecutors said Umezawa drained a 220-milliliter bottle of shochu distilled spirits at a parking area before causing the crash. The truck swayed from side to side and crossed the centerline, they said.

Before the crash, Umezawa was told by a client that he smelled of alcohol while being warned by colleagues against driving after drinking. But he ignored those warnings, the prosecutors said, emphasizing that he habitually drove after drinking.

Umezawa’s truck crashed into the line of schoolchildren in the Chiba city of Yachimata on June 28, leaving two boys dead and three others injured, according to the indictment and other sources.

The defendant’s side has no plans to challenge the charges. The focus of the trial is how heavy the punishment will be.

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