Statement on the Judgment in the Retrial for the 1997 Tokyo Murder Case of a Female TEPCO Employee
On November 7, 2012, the fourth Criminal Division of the Tokyo High Court rendered a judgment to Mr. Govinda Prasad Mainali to dismiss with prejudice the appeal by the prosecutor against the Tokyo District Court’s judgment on the retrial finding Mr. Mainali not guilty.
Mr. Mainali, who had been arrested in a completely unrelated case on March 23, 1997, on suspicion of overstaying his visa, in violation of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, consistently maintained and insisted on his innocence of the crime of robbery-murder. He had suffered a huge amount of disgrace having been wrongfully convicted and sentenced for the robbery-murder, and moreover, he had been forcibly separated from his family and deprived of his freedom for more than 15 years until he was finally released and allowed to return to his home country, Nepal, after the Tokyo High Court ordered the stay of execution of his rendered sentence in June 2012.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (“JFBA”) would once again like to commend Mr. Mainali and his family for the efforts and having faced hardships, and would like to express its profound respect and gratitude for the supporters and defense team who provided their consistent and dogged support to him and his cause.
This judgment approved the points presented by the judgment on the retrial of the Tokyo District Court which found him not guilty, as it was reasonable to pose a doubt, in many respects, as to the possibility of Mr. Mainali being the real perpetrator. Further, the Nov. 7 judgment indicated the strong probability of the existence of a third party who actually committed such crime instead of Mr. Mainali, and made it clear that Mr. Mainali was innocent of all charges, considering also the results of the DNA testing conducted after the decision of launch of retrial.
The prosecutors have finally admitted the innocence of Mr. Mainali at the retrial. However, this was only because it had become blindingly obvious to everyone that the prosecutors had no choice but to finally give up on their assertion that Mr. Mainali was guilty, given the outcome of the newly conducted DNA test. I have no choice but to express that the prosecutor’s response was too late, taking into account the prosecutor’s attitude having kept adhering to allege unreasonable allegation of Mr. Mainali's guilt.
Under normal circumstances, Mr. Mainali should have been freed from criminal proceedings when the Tokyo District Court acquitted him at the first instance trial on April 14, 2000. The case concerning Mr. Mainali revealed problems entailed in the criminal justice system in Japan, such as that an appeal can be made by prosecutors to a not-guilty judgment, and a detention can be ordered even after a not-guilty judgment has been rendered.
In Mr. Mainali’s case, a newly obtained DNA test result after the filing of a request for retrial acted as a key factor contributing to elucidate Mr. Mainali’s innocence. Therefore, in order to prevent the occurrence of miscarriages of justice and save the innocent, it is essential that a system be established to guarantee that a defense counsel can conduct a DNA testing on appraisal material stored by investigative authorities. In addition, it is necessary as a premise to legislate for a system which ensures the appropriate preservation of appraisal material collected by investigative authorities to maintain its condition properly to conduct an appraisal at a later day. It is a pressing issue to achieve a system concerning the full-scale disclosure system of evidence including the full disclosure of appraisal material.
Furthermore, it can be said that the necessity to establish a third party body, independent of polices, prosecutors, and courts, to investigate and ascertain causes of a miscarriage of justice, and to aim at a reform of criminal justice system to eradicate miscarriages of justice, of which the JFBA has long been advocating the establishment, is further increasing.
Taking this case as an opportunity, the JFBA will further strengthen our efforts in activities to support retrials, and will put forward our best efforts to achieve necessary system reforms to prevent a miscarriage of justice.
November 7, 2012
Japan Federation of Bar Associations