Panel backs decision not to indict ex-PM Abe

A Japanese prosecution inquest panel says it was appropriate for prosecutors not to indict former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo over an alleged violation of the political funds control law.

Abe and two others faced criminal accusations regarding parties held at hotels while he was in office. The parties were held for Abe's supporters on the eve of government-sponsored cherry blossom-viewing gatherings. The two others are a former secretary to Abe and an aide who managed finances at Abe's political funds control group in Tokyo.

The Abe side was accused of covering part of the expenses. The former secretary was suspected of having failed to keep the hotel receipts. The former aid was accused of neglecting to send them to the Abe support group that hosted the annual functions.

In March, Tokyo prosecutors decided not to indict Abe and the two others.

On Wednesday, the inquest panel announced that it had found that the prosecutors' decision not to indict Abe was just.

The panel earlier determined that it was unjust not to indict the two others.

It noted that the former aide had acknowledged the facts and shown remorse, but it judged that a thorough investigation should be done over why the receipts were not sent to the organizers of the functions.

As a result, prosecutors are set to reopen the investigation to determine whether to indict the two.

In July, another inquest panel judged that an earlier decision by prosecutors not to indict Abe for covering part of the spending was unjust.

Tokyo prosecutors are re-investigating the case.