Pana Wave probed over car checkups

Yomiuri Shimbun/February 6, 2004

Police on Monday arrested an employee of a car maintenance firm in Fukui and questioned its president on suspicion it falsified safety inspections of vehicles belonging to the Pana Wave Laboratory. The police also searched the headquarters of the group in the city.

Arrested was Shojiro Kawamura, 57, an inspector of the firm.

Four vehicles belonging to the group were seized, including a station wagon used by group representative Yuko Chino.

The police said they suspected the maintenance firm issued documents that falsely claimed the vehicles had undergone and passed a mandatory safety check sometime between March and May. The police are trying to clarify whether the firm received money from the group in return for falsifying the documents.

The police said the vehicles could not have been inspected as claimed since they were part of the group's slow-moving motorcade of vehicles in several prefectures, including Yamanashi, Gifu and Nagano, and none of the vehicles left the caravan.

By law, vehicles have to undergo a periodic safety check at local land transport offices.

As the firm is licensed by the central government to conduct safety inspections, its staff are qualified to examine vehicles and issue a certificate of roadworthiness.

The search of the group's headquarters started at about 10:15 a.m. Local residents watched the search uneasily as the group had been searched in December, when five of its members were arrested on suspicion of beating an assistant professor who later died at the facility.

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