China / Society

Japanese senator pleads not guilty on drug charge

By ZHENG CAIXIONG in Guangzhou ( Updated: 2014-08-26 21:28
A Japanese senator pleaded not guilty to charges of drug smuggling during a hearing at Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court on Tuesday.

Sakuragi Takuma, 71, said he was innocent during his trial on Tuesday morning.

Takuma, a member of the Inazawa municipal assembly in Aichi Prefecture, appeared at the court wearing metal framed glasses and a black Western-style suit but no tie.

Japanese senator pleads not guilty on drug charge

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Takuma was detained by police after more than 3 kilograms of methamphetamine, commonly known as "ice", was found in his luggage during a baggage check at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in late October 2013.

He was on his way home via Shanghai and was checking in for a flight from Guangzhou to Shanghai when he was detained.

Local officials immediately informed Japan's consulate general in Guangzhou, in line with regulations and international practices, on Nov 1.

The Guangzhou Baiyun District People's Procuratorate officially approved the arrest of the Japanese assemblyman in December.

After Takuma was detained, he denied trafficking drugs, saying he was helping a friend take luggage to Shanghai.

Also appearing at the court were defendants Aly Yattabare and Mohamed Soumah, both from Africa. The two, who were suspected of being involved in the case, were detained in Guangzhou on Nov 18 and 19.

The court did not issue a verdict on Tuesday.

According to the relevant criminal laws in China, the seizure of 50 grams or more of heroin or methamphetamine can result in the death penalty, and this applies to both Chinese citizens and foreigners.

China executed a convicted Japanese drug trafficker in the northeast city of Dalian, Liaoning province, on July 26.

The unidentified 50-year-old was the fifth Japanese citizen to be executed in China since the two countries normalized relations in 1972.

A report from China Radio International said the man was found guilty of acting with another Japanese man to transport drugs from Dalian to Japan. It did not state when the case occurred or what drugs were being carried.

The Dalian immediate court informed the Japanese Consulate General staff before the execution and the condemned man was allowed to meet with his relatives before his execution.

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