Three lawyers acting as prosecutors in the recently concluded trial of former Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa said Wednesday they will appeal his acquittal in the political funding case.
Ozawa, 69, was cleared by the Tokyo District Court of allegations he conspired with aides to hide 400 million yen he lent to his political funding body in 2004 for a land deal. His aides had said the mistake was purely technical and their boss -- who engineered the party's 2009 election victory -- had not been aware of it.
Prosecutors, who came unstuck over the use of illegal evidence, said it was unthinkable Ozawa had not been in the loop.
The prosecuting team said they would appeal the April 26 ruling at the Tokyo High Court, Fuji TV reported. Attorney Shunzo Omuro said the Tokyo District Court's ruling was wrong and suggested that his team will present new evidence to show that Ozawa engaged in a conspiracy.
Ozawa released a statement in which he said he couldn't understand the appeal. He added he was confident that the original ruling would stand.
After he was acquitted, Ozawa said the court ruling was in line with his assertion that there was no conspiracy related to a false statement. He is the head of the largest grouping in the DPJ, and often seen as the power behind the premiership. In the highly factionalized world of Japanese politics, very little gets done without his say-so, tacit or otherwise.
The decision by prosecutors to appeal the acquittal complicates the DPJ's plan to reinstate his membership which was suspended for the duration of the trial.
But DPJ Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi said that Ozawa's membership would be reinstated on Thursday and that the appeal would have no bearing on it.
The DPJ executive board had differing opinions on whether disciplinary measures should be lifted. Diet Policy Affairs chief Seiji Maehara said it would be premature to reinstate Ozawa’s membership once an appeal has been lodged.© Japan Today/AFP