• Mon
  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 6:23am

Japanese politician, 70, denies charges in China after being caught with 3kg of crystal meth

Defence lawyer claims accused did not know he was carrying narcotics when he was picked up last year by airport security in Guangzhou

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 August, 2014, 12:40pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 August, 2014, 9:08am

A 70-year-old Japanese politician stood trial yesterday in Guangzhou on drug charges punishable by death, with his defence lawyers arguing he did not know he was carrying more than 3kg of narcotics in his bag.

Takuma Sakuragi pleaded not guilty in the Guangzhou City Intermediate People's Court to charges of transporting illegal drugs.

Sakuragi is a member of the Inazawa municipal assembly in Aichi prefecture in southern Japan and has travelled to Nigeria in the past on private business.

The indictment alleged that Sakuragi flew from Nagoya to Guangzhou on October 29 last year, checking into a hotel in Sanyuanli, Baiyun district, with the help of a Nigerian national identified as Gemadi Hassan.

Sakuragi testified that he went to Guangzhou after months of corresponding by e-mail with Hassan, who promised to help Sakuragi recoup US$701,000 in investment losses in Nigerian trades he had amassed since 1992 if Sakuragi went to the southern city and signed some documents.

Sakuragi said he signed the paperwork because it appeared to have been issued by the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

Acting on the instructions of Hassan, another man, Aly Yattabare, 35, from Mali, handed Sakuragi a suitcase containing women's platform shoes, which Sakuragi was supposed to take to Japan and pass on to a third party, the indictment said.

Sakuragi was scheduled to fly to Japan via Shanghai on October 31 but was stopped by airport security in Guangzhou. Officers found drugs inside the soles of the shoes and inside the suitcase's retractable handle. There were 28 bags of methamphetamine in all, weighing 3,289 grams.

Yattabare and another African - Mohamed Soumah, 39, from Guinea - were arrested in connection with the case and were standing trial with Sakuragi, according to the court.

Outside the court, Sakuragi's lawyer, Chen Weixiong, said: "[We are] attempting the impossible … The biggest challenge now is the fact that he did carry 3,200 grams of [drugs] in his bag."

During the afternoon court session, prosecutors said Sakuragi was aware the suitcase held narcotics and questioned him on why he thought signing a document in a small hotel could enable him to recover his money.

In response, Sakuragi denied knowledge of the drugs. He also said he was not familiar with the city or the hotel and maintained that Hassan made the hotel booking.

The two other Africans being charged with illegal transportation of narcotics also denied the charges against them.

Most reporters - including a big contingent from Japan - were barred from the hearing, but those from a number of state-run or pro-government outlets, such as Singapore-based Lianhe Zaobao and Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun, were let in.

The hearing was due to last three days, court staff said.


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This article is now closed to comments

rubbish. he may have been conned to carry the suit case but that ignores the fact that he had the drugs in his shoes as well. you can't serious believe he was conned into wearing the someone else' shoes too.
M Miyagi
Japanese politicians and their involvement with crime syndicates like the Yakuza is a well known thing in Japan. Japan's LDP for example gets a lot of funding from the proceeds of crime. Japanese politicians are corrupt criminals and are notorious rapists and gangsters. Takuma Sakuragi being in the drug traf**** business is what they do apart from looting from the public funds.
"The Diplomat" (thediplomat .com) is a US sponsored anti-China and anti-Russia propaganda apparatus operating in Japan. I followed their site a while back. The amount of lies, nonsense, distortions and biased arguments was on a par with FOX, CNN and the likes in the US. Some US "professors" teaching in S. Korea and Japan wrote like ignorant school dropouts. I still vividly remember how one American "professor" argued a few months back that the US was growing stronger economically, politically and militarily rather than experiencing decline.
"The Diplomat" is a pure garbage / propaganda cesspool.
The Diplomat has FORMAL PARTNERSHIPS with a K Street Washington Think Tank called CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES (CSIS), the funding for this think tank comes for these sources.
For Fiscal Year 2012, CSIS had an operating revenue of US $33.2 million. The sources were: 27% corporate, 27% foundation, 21% government, 11% individuals, 4% endowment, 10% other. CSIS had operating expenses of US $33.1 million for 2012, 77% for programs, 17% for administration, and 6% for development.
The goal of CSIS is "Since its founding, CSIS “has been dedicated to finding ways to sustain American prominence and prosperity as a force for good in the world," according to its website."
And while I occasionally check the insights in the article (via their occasional cross-postings at various ALT sites), it is important to keep in mind the biases of the authors there.
it does not say it was in the SOLE OF HIS SHOES
it says the soles of the shoes in the suitcase
does not matter , he knew the deal
Hope he is ready for the day of the roap.
i did not know "Made in Africa" women's shoes sell in japan....
How come SCMP didn't discuss the politician's right-wing views and position on Diaoyu Islands?
****thediplomat.com/2013/11/china-arrests-right-wing-japanese-politician/ May or may not be contributing factors but definitely seems to warrant some discussion - and definitely more so than the ****ian connections.
If he gets the rope, it wii only prove how much common sense Chinese people have. He is 70. He is from a different period. He was obviously conned by the 2 black men. Why should he face the rope for his stupidity? I think he has faced enough and should be returned back home safely.
IMO, age has nothing to do with crime. If he is guilty, he is guilty. I have never heard of a law that exempt crimes due to age.
you really think the guy was "stupid"?
i would think he was smart and got into this after much deliberation, a conscientious act.
he thought it was high risk high reward deal... although in this case, the risk showed up..


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