CHIBA (Kyodo) A 54-year-old British national was deported Friday, nearly 1 1/2 months after he was cleared of charges of smuggling marijuana from South Africa to Japan last August.

The man, who was detained for nearly 10 months after his arrest, left Narita International Airport for South Africa, where he had been residing. He told reporters shortly before his departure that it has been a tough time for him. The Tokyo High Court is expected to soon launch a trial based on an appeal from prosecutors, without the presence of the defendant, against the Chiba District Court acquittal.

The deputy chief prosecutor at the Tokyo High Public Prosecutor's Office, Kazuhiro Suzuki, said the prosecution does not expect the defendant's absence to pose any particular difficulties to proceed with the appeals trial.

After his acquittal, the man, whose name was not provided, was placed in a detention center for illegal immigrants. He was arrested on Aug. 13, 2007 on suspicion of bringing from South Africa a suitcase containing about 9.7 kg of marijuana via Narita airport.

On May 1, Judge Hiroyuki Sakuta at the Chiba District Court acquitted the man of the charges, saying there was reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally brought the drugs into Japan.

Prosecutors filed an appeal and asked for a court order to continue detaining him.

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