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2008年12月13日 (土)



--The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 12(IHT/Asahi: December 13,2008)

EDITORIAL: Crimes in the courts


About 5 million disputes, violations and lawsuits are brought before courts across the nation every year. Once a ruling is finalized, everyone must obey it. This is a basic rule of a society governed by law.


But in a recent case, a court ruling was forged. This is a serious incident that shakes the foundation of the judicial system.


It has become clear that the perpetrator of the fake-ruling scam took a cut of the ill-gotten gains from bank transfer fraud, a growing social problem in Japan.


That money was held in a Saitama Prefecture bank account, which had been frozen at the request of police.


But a person saying the account holder owed money filed for seizure of the account with the Kumagaya branch of the Saitama District Court. The request was accompanied by a Kyoto District Court order for the account holder to pay the debts.


The ruling turned out to be a forgery. But the Kumagaya branch, which believed it was real, seized the account and ordered the bank to lift the freeze. The "creditor" then sent the bank a forged request for a cash transfer, and the bank remitted about 4 million yen to a designated account.


The case came to light when a fraud victim, trying to recoup the loss, noticed that money was missing from the frozen account and contacted the Kumagaya branch.


A 35-year-old male clerk of the Kyoto Family Court was arrested on suspicion of forging the transfer request and mailing it to the bank. Immediately after the arrest, the clerk denied the allegations.


Police are investigating whether the clerk was also involved in the forgery of the court ruling.


What is shocking is that the Kumagaya branch was not the only recipient of the forged Kyoto District Court ruling. Similar documents had been sent to five other courts, including the Tokyo and Sapporo district courts and a summary court in Osaka Prefecture.


According to sources, all of the documents, including the forged ruling sent to the Kumagaya branch, contained the name of the same plaintiff. The perpetrator apparently used the same tactics in attempts to withdraw cash from frozen bank accounts once used for bank transfer fraud in those areas.


The enforcement of legislation aimed at redressing victims of bank transfer fraud in June made it possible to freeze the bank accounts of swindler groups. The numbers and names of holders of frozen bank accounts released by the Deposit Insurance Corp. of Japan were possibly misused.


The approximately 9,000 clerks at courts across the nation have the authority to prepare and keep documents related to court cases. Even judges ask the clerks to get them court records.


Six years ago, a court clerk was arrested for allegedly forging court orders for the seizure of claimable assets. If court clerks try to misuse their professional knowledge and positions, they could throw law and order into confusion.


The Supreme Court is studying preventive measures. Although it is a difficult problem, we urge investigators to thoroughly uncover the whole truth, including motive and background.


Furthermore, all courts need to re-examine the way they educate employees.



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