Monday 9 December 2019

Two Irish rugby fans questioned by police in Japan after arrests in suspected heroin-mixing scam

Tokyo (stock image)
Tokyo (stock image)

Gareth Morgan, Ralph Riegel and Aoife Walsh

TWO Irish rugby fans are being questioned by Japanese police after being arrested in a suspected heroin-mixing scam at the Rugby World Cup.

The duo - from Dublin and Cork - were arrested by police after a Tokyo karaoke parlour worker rang the authorities when one of the men was apparently found unconscious in the club.

One Irish national was rushed to hospital where he was treated for a suspected overdose.

The other man was arrested on Saturday and taken to a Tokyo police station for questioning after a quantity of heroin was alleged to have been found at the scene.

It is understood the men are denying the drug possession allegations.

They said that they were the innocent victims of a scam.

Both men are in their late 20s and early 30s and were in Japan to see Ireland's Rugby World Cup group matches.

The English language paper, 'Japan Today,' and Tokyo station, Fuji TV, both reported on the detentions last Friday evening.

Gardaí have no details on the arrests.

However, it is expected that the Department of Foreign Affairs will be briefed on the matter once Tokyo Metropolitan Police set a date for the men to make a court appearance.

Under strict Japanese anti-drug laws, the duo can be held for an initial period of 28 days.

It will then be open to a prosecutor to seek a formal hearing.

If found not guilty, both will immediately be released.

However, if convicted of drug possession, they face the possibility of a prison term under Japan's increasingly tough crackdown on narcotics.

Or, in a more lenient option, both can be fined heavily and deported from Japan.

The incident occurred late last Friday night as Irish fans were socialising in the popular Shinjuku and Shibuku areas of Tokyo.

A Shinjuku karaoke parlour worker was checking the club between 10.30pm and 11pm on Friday evening when he noticed a foreign national collapsed in one of the booths.

It was realised the man was unconscious and, when efforts to wake him failed, both the police and paramedics were called.

The unconscious man was transferred to a Tokyo hospital while his friend was questioned about the precise circumstances of what had happened.

Police were informed that both men were Irish nationals who were in Japan to attend the three Rugby World Cup group games.

The Shinjuku and Shibuku areas of Tokyo are amongst Japan's most popular nightlife areas.

However, there have been a number of drug-related incidents over recent times including the hospitalisation of a group of foreigners last year who claimed an attempt had been made to 'spike' their drinks and rob them.

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