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Former Governor Ota files appeal to higher court

Date Posted: 2003-06-22

Former Okinawa Governor Masahide Ota has appealed to a higher court after the lower court found him guilty of implementing illegal development projects in a protected forest area in Kunigami Village. The Naha District Court had ordered Ota to pay 328 million in damages.

The development project took place in 1998, while Ota was still in the office. A group of local environmentalists opposing the projects took the case to the court and won after six years of litigation. The environmentalist group's lawyers are reportedly considering widening the case to include the current governor, Keiichi Inamine, who they claim should have demanded that the former governor return the money.

In his appeal, Ota denies any wrongdoing and insists that the construction work was done legally and had been necessary. "I think we have a good chance to get the verdict overturned in the upper court," one member of Ota's team of lawyers said.

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