Ex-Japanese assemblyman sentenced to life for smuggling drugs in China

Guangzhou customs authorities hold a press conference to brief the media on drug smuggling cases in the third quarter of 2018. Photo: IC

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A former Japanese assemblyman from Aichi was sentenced to life in prison on Friday by a court in Guangzhou, South China‘s Guangdong Province for drug smuggling. 

China reported the case to the Consulate-General of Japan in Guangzhou, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a routine press conference on Friday. 

Takuma Sakuragi, 76, is a former city assemblyman in Inazawa, Aichi prefecture. During his flight from Guangzhou to Japan via Shanghai on October 31, 2013, security personnel at the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport found 3,289 grams of methamphetamine, also known as ice, in a woman‘s wedge sandals in his luggage, the court said. 

On November 18 and 19, 2013, police arrested Moxi, a citizen from Guinea, and Ali from Mali at their residence for helping to hide the ice and gave the luggage to Sakuragi. Police seized 18.15 grams of methamphetamine at their residence. 

The court said the three violated Chinese law and customs supervision. Their behavior constituted the crime of drug smuggling. Because Sakuragi failed to go through exit formalities, his action is considered an attempted crime according to the law, and the three defendants can therefore be given a lighter sentence. 

Ali was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for smuggling drugs. Sakuragi and Moxi were given life in prison, and were ordered to surrender their personal property.

The defendants were informed that they can appeal to the Guangdong Higher People‘s Court within 10 days.

During the trial, the court protected the defendants‘ litigation rights in accordance with the law. About 40 people, including relatives of the defendants and staff members of relevant foreign embassies and consulates in China, heard the verdict on Friday.  

Sakuragi intends to appeal to a higher court within 10 days, his attorney said. In his trial, Sakuragi pleaded not guilty, contending that he was not aware that the suitcase contained drugs, the Japan Times reported.

Global Times


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