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Osaka police station escapee asked lawyer not to tell officers meeting was over

The Osaka Prefectural Police's Tondabayashi Police Station, from which Junya Hida escaped, is seen in Tondabayashi, Osaka Prefecture, on Aug. 13, 2018. (Mainichi)

OSAKA -- A rape suspect who escaped from a police station here on Aug. 12 following a meeting with an attorney may have asked the lawyer not to inform officers they had finished talking, people close to the investigation have disclosed.

Thirty-year-old escapee Junya Hida consulted with his lawyer in a visitation room at the Tondabayashi Police Station from 7:32 p.m. to around 8:00 p.m. However, police at the station did not notice the meeting had ended until an officer checked the visitation room at 9:43 p.m. and found Hida was missing.

The station did not station officers in the next room when attorneys interviewed suspects at night, and had also removed the batteries from visitation room door sensors intended to notify officers when someone entered or exited the room. While the station officers asked lawyers and suspects to let them know when their meetings ended, Hida's attorney did not do so the night Hida disappeared.

According to investigative sources, Hida had told his lawyer on Aug. 12 that there was no need to let officers know when they finished their meeting. A representative of the attorney's firm declined to comment.

The Osaka Prefectural Police believed that Hida planned to get time alone in the visitation room at night when police station security was poor, and make his escape.

Hida allegedly forced open an acrylic partition before fleeing the visitation room. The prefectural police have placed him on a wanted list on suspicion of aggravated escape.

(Japanese original by Takuya Murata and Haruka Ito, Osaka City News Department)

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