Prosecutors in Japan unlikely to charge Julie Hamp - Reports

Officials have until the end of the week to indict former Toyota global communications boss after her oxycodone arrest

Julie Hamp was detained on June 18
Julie Hamp was detained on June 18

JAPAN: Prosecutors in Japan must decide by the end of this week if they are to formally indict ex-Toyota comms chief Julie Hamp for alleged drugs offences.

According to media reports, she is unlikely to be prosecuted, but that has not been officially confirmed by the authorities.

Under Japanese law, a suspect can be held for up to 23 days without charge. Hamp was arrested on June 18 after customs agents found 57 tablets containing oxycodone, which is tightly regulated in Japan, in a package she allegedly sent to herself from the US.

Prosecutors can lay charges at any point during the detention period if they deem they have enough evidence. If charged, Hamp could remain in custody until court proceedings take place.

The former Toyota Motor global managing officer and CCO resigned on July 1 with Senior managing officer Shigeru Hayakawa taking on her responsibilities.

The automaker, which initially defended Hamp after the arrest, said in a statement that it "accepted her resignation after considering the concerns and inconvenience that recent events have caused our stakeholders."

Hamp relocated to Toyota’s global headquarters in Japan in April after being promoted from North America CCO in March. She was the first female senior executive to reach that level at the automaker.

According to the US Embassy in Japan, life in the country’s jails is tough, especially for drug offence suspects.

"For most drug cases, prosecutors place a suspect incommunicado which bars them from receiving visitors other than a lawyer or a consul, and from corresponding with anyone other than their lawyer or (in most cases) the embassy or consulate.

"Some suspects incommunicado may also be prohibited from receiving mail or reading material from the embassy or consulate, although they are usually allowed to meet in person with a consul and to write to a consul. Incommunicado orders may continue until the first trial date," it states on its website.

Prosecutors in Japan generally do not take a case to trial unless they are convinced they can win, and about a quarter of all cases are dropped prior to indictment. However, after indictment, the conviction rate is over 99 per cent.

"If indicted, the defendant is usually transferred to the regional detention prison where he/she will be held for the duration of the trial. At times prisoners are held at local police stations due to space constraints at other facilities," the embassy website states

"There is no trial by jury in Japan. Instead, cases are tried by a panel of three judges. Individual court sessions can last a short period of time or several hours. Subsequent sessions will be held anywhere from several days to several weeks later.

"Depending on the complexity of the case, a trial could last for many months. If a defendant pleads guilty, the trial could be resolved in as few as two hearings."

Hamp told police she did not intend to break Japanese law.

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