Former ASDF chief found guilty of bribing staff ahead of Tokyo gov't election

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-22 17:56:00|Editor: ying
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TOKYO, May 22 (Xinhua) -- The Tokyo District Court on Monday found a former Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) chief guilty of making illegal payments to his campaign staff ahead of a failed attempt to become Tokyo governor in February 2014.

The court found that Toshio Tamogami, 68, while not coming up with the plan himself or leading it, was complicit in the plan and approved it, sources close to the matter said Monday, adding that he, in some cases, ordered the amounts of payments to be increased.

The court on Monday handed him a 22-month jail sentence, suspended for five years.

Although Tamogami maintained his innocence, Presiding Judge Kazunori Karei said that the accused "lacked awareness as a candidate and cannot escape harsh condemnation."

During the trial Tamogami said he felt a moral responsibility for the case, but not a legal one.

Owing to Tamogami's political organization being disbanded and him acknowledging his moral responsibility for the crime, the judge opted to hand down a suspended sentence.

"It is truly regrettable. I thought I would be cleared of the allegation," Tamogami was quoted as telling a press conference after the ruling was handed down.

"There was no specific evidence of conspiracy with campaign staff, and I doubt the trial was held fairly," he said, adding that he would contest the decision.

According to the ruling, Tamogami colluded with his senior campaign staff in paying 2 million yen (18,000 U.S. dollars) to Nobuteru Shimamoto, his campaign manager at the time, and a total of 2.8 million yen (25,200 U.S. dollars) to five other members of his organization.

Shimamoto is facing similar charges connected to the case.

The payments were made between March and May 2014, in the run up to Tamogami's failed bid to become Tokyo's governor.

Japan's election law prohibits the paying of campaign staff as it constitutes bribery.