Horiemon in Tears

My AP Story on today’s closing arguments 1

My AP Story on today’s closing arguments 2

My AP Story on today’s closing arguments 3

Courtroom drama: Livedoor trial.
List of Characters:
Takafumi Horie, 34. The naughty cocky kid in trouble. He looks bored much of the time. Well, a Japanese trial IS boring. Prosecutors and defense attorneys alike read from their documents, sometimes at lightning speeds and often inaudibly. (They don’t need to play to the jury. There is no jury.) But today he got choked up telling the judge that he feels he has been targeted unfairly by prosecutors who are out to get to him. He stood out too much, and he is now being made an example of. He cried, wiping off a tear with a flick of his hand. Reporters began taking notes viciously. It was unquestionably the most dramatic moment of today’s session. Horie had his back to us, standing at the podium, and it’s unclear whether he thought tears will bring empathy from the judge. When NHK reported a raid was going to happen at Livedoor, Horie was stunned, he told the judge. His PR person called the prosecutors to ask if a raid was going to happen, and she was told it wasn’t true. But the TV cameras had assembled at Roppongi Hills so the raid could proceed on televised news a few hours later. He said it was frightening. Yes, it is easy to imagine how frightening it must have been. Suddenly, they were out to get him, scrutinizing every shady deal in his company’s books, not even bothering to question him to slap a fine or demand a correction, but determined just to destroy him and arrest him.
Yasuyuki Takai, the chief defense attorney, sits down after he speaks and looks up at the high ceiling of the courtroom, looking almost half-asleep. But when he speaks, he is forceful, arguing that the case is a frameup. This is such an unsual case. Is this going to fly? It’s hard to read the judge, but it’s clear he isn’t all that convinced Horie is as guilty as the prosecutors seem to think he is. Horie clearly isn’t your typical criminal. At one point in an earlier session, the judge asked Horie if he felt any remorse for the damage that he had caused. Horie couldn’t come out and say he was sorry, as that would be too much like admitting guilt. But what is the just punishment? Is it a crime, or is it a civil lawsuit of damages to the investors who lost money, duped by his claims about his company? A new kind of person starting a new kind of business needs new kinds of regulations and perhaps a new kind of justice. The judge surely has a tough job. The verdict comes March 16.