Image 1 of 1

CHIKA HONDA 01.jpg

Chika Honda sits on the stairway outside her apartment in Chiba, Japan. In 1992, Honda, then 36, visited Australia in a group of seven on her first trip overseas and was arrested on entry at Melbourne Airport when more than 12 kg of heroin was found in her suitcase and the baggage of three of her traveling companions. The four were subsequently sentenced to 15 years, of which Honda served more than 10. She was released in 2002 after new evidence came to light. She has always claimed her innocence, saying the group's baggage was stolen and later replaced during a stopover in Malaysia. A fifth Japanese national in the group, Yoshio Katsuno, who was the alleged ringleader of the smuggling plot and a convicted member of the yakusa, was sentenced to 20 years. Katsuno was a frequent customer to the small restaurant where Honda used to work, and it was he who persuaded her to tag along on the trip to Australia.