• Kyodo


Former Toyota Verblitz flyhalf Ryota Kabashima pleaded guilty on Thursday to possessing cocaine in his first court appearance in the case.

“There is no mistake (in the indictment),” Kabashima, 28, said as his trial opened at the Nagoya District Court’s Okazaki branch.

Another player from Toyota Motor Corp.’s Top League team, 36-year-old Steven Yates, was also indicted in July over possession of cocaine and marijuana.

Prosecutors sought an 18-month prison sentence as the trial concluded Thursday, saying Kabashima “was using it once or twice a month during offseason from around three years ago after being recommended by Yates” and “the addiction is clear.”

Kabashima’s defense team requested a suspended sentence, stating “there was no addiction as he was not using it during the season, while his purchase route was limited to Yates too.”

The court is due to hand down a ruling on Sept. 26.

Kabashima was indicted in July over possession of about 1 gram of cocaine while in a taxi on April 10 in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture.

He was fired by Toyota a day after his indictment on July 10 and was released on bail of ¥2 million ($18,800) the next day.

Toyota suspended the team’s activities after Kabashima’s arrest in June and training will not resume until November.

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