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04 February 2009

No smoking in interrogations

Offering suspects a cigarette during police questioning may become a thing of the past if a Tokyo police experiment with a ban on smoking in interrogation rooms works out.

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Offering suspects a cigarette during police questioning may become a thing of the past if a Tokyo police experiment with a ban on smoking in interrogation rooms works out.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police will implement the ban on a trial basis from mid-February due to health concerns about second-hand smoke, as well as worries that offering cigarettes from a police officer's own pack may be seen as doing the suspect a favour, Kyodo news agency reported.

Police are expected to formalise the ban after a three-month trial period, although some officials have expressed concern that requests by suspects to take a smoking break may decrease the level of "tension" during an interrogation, Kyodo added.

A Tokyo Metropolitan Police Agency spokeswoman said she was unable to confirm the report as no announcement had been made.

Japan last year tightened rules for police interrogations, barring officers from touching suspects or grilling them for long hours, following several cases in which the accused were later found to be innocent after having been forced into making confessions. – (Reuters Health, February 2009)

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