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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 November 7 - 13  > Wrongfully jailed Nepalese man acquitted of murder in retrial
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2012 November 7 - 13 [CIVIL RIGHTS]

Wrongfully jailed Nepalese man acquitted of murder in retrial

November 8, 2012
The Tokyo High Court on November 7 acquitted a Nepalese man who was jailed for murder that he never committed. The court ruling has been confirmed as the prosecutor’s office gave up appealing the case to the higher court.

The Nepalese man, Govinda Prasad Mainali, was arrested and indicted in May 1997 for murdering a female employee of Tokyo Electric Power Company.

In April 2000, the Tokyo District Court declared Mainali not guilty on the ground that the prosecutor’s office failed to prove his guilt. Nevertheless, the prosecution appealed the court ruling to the higher court. Eight months later, the Tokyo High Court convicted Mainali of murder and handed down a life imprisonment sentence. Due to the Supreme Court’s rejection of Minali’s appeal, he was sent to prison to serve the sentence.

Insisting on his innocence, Mainali demanded a retrial while serving the prison term. After spending 15 years behind bars, he was released as the high court decided to open a retrial.

In the retrial proceedings, public prosecutors disclosed evidence including test results from DNA samples collected from the crime scene. Analysis of the test results enhanced the possibility of refuting Mainali’s involvement in the crime and he won acquittal.

The court, however, offered no apology to Minali and avoided discussing issues involving past police investigations and past trial proceedings.

After the court decision, Japan Federation of Bar Associations President Yamagishi Kenji on the same day at a press conference demanded that the government establish an independent organ with the aim to reform the current criminal justice system to decrease the number of false accusation and imprisonment cases.


Mainali’s chief lawyer Kamiyama Hiroshi said at a press conference after the ruling, “What brought about the problem was the guilty verdict given in disregard of ‘the iron rule of criminal trials’” of innocence until proven guilty. “In order to find out how such a mistake occurred, the court proceedings and ruling should be monitored by a third party.”

According to Akahata, prosecutors have not been asked so far to clarify this case. The court does not recognize itself as a body to investigate each wrong judgment to make clear the responsibility of improper procedure.

In order to change the current conditions of Japan’s criminal trial system, the “iron rule” must be ensured by the whole judicial system. Improvement of the overall system is also needed urgently, including the recording of the process of interrogations as well as full disclosure of evidence offered by prosecutors.
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