A Japanese court on Tuesday convicted a 21-year-old member of Nihon University's American football team for illegal drug possession, in a case that has rocked the school as it contends with multiple scandals among team members.

The Tokyo District Court sentenced Noriyasu Kitabatake to a 16-month jail term, suspended for three years, saying that the defendant had expressed remorse for his actions and was likely to face punishment from the university. Prosecutors had sought an 18-month prison sentence.

The court recognized that he had used cannabis with a friend in the dorm, and that he had stored illegal stimulants that had been obtained by the friend along with the cannabis, believing it was the synthetic drug MDMA.

Presiding Judge Tomofumi Ikeda said he believed Kitabatake had learned a lesson from the ordeal, adding he hoped the student would "apply it to your future."

According to the ruling, Kitabatake was in possession of a 0.198-gram stimulant pill fragment at the team dormitory in Nakano Ward in July.

During the trial, Kitabatake said around 10 people in the team had been using cannabis.

Nihon University has decided to disband the team after he and three other players came under suspicion of drug-related offenses after August. Two of them were fined for purchasing cannabis, while another had his case dropped.

Photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter shows the American football ground at Nihon University in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward on Nov. 29, 2023. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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