Prosecutors in Nepali's case are 'sore losers'

TOKYO —

“Prosecutors,” observes the daily Nikkan Gendai (June 9), “are bad losers.”

Fifteen years behind bars is a brutal price to pay for overstaying your visa. Govinda Prasad Mainali of Nepal did that. He entered Japan in 1994 on a three-month tourist visa, found work at a Tokyo Indian restaurant, and was still there in March 1997, when a 39-year-old prostitute was murdered nearby. Mainali, one of her customers, was arrested, first for overstaying, then as a murder suspect.

When the story first broke it was the victim who captured most of the attention. Her “double life” was fascinating – prostitute by night, by day an economist with Tokyo Electric Power Company. Here was a mystery indeed. What had driven her to the streets? Mainali’s arrest and trial were a sideshow in comparison.

That changed when he was found innocent. Tokyo District Court Judge Toshikazu Obuchi in April 2000 found the evidence against him thin and circumstantial. Prosecutors promptly appealed – a move that, together with a notorious 99% conviction rate, reinforced a widespread notion that Japan’s court system is heavily weighted in the prosecution’s favor. In December 2000 the Tokyo High Court found Mainali guilty. In October 2003 the Supreme Court upheld that verdict.

Last July fresh DNA evidence linked semen and body hair found at the scene to a man other than Mainali. Eleven months later – on June 7 – the Tokyo High Court granted a retrial, Judge Masayoshi Ogawa declaring, “The [DNA] test results make it an undeniable possibility that another man could have murdered the victim.”

Fifteen years after his arrest, Mainali is at last free. Deportation to Nepal is pending. But prosecutors, says Nikkan Gendai, refuse to admit defeat. They promptly filed a motion to have the retrial decision reconsidered. “Saving face,” declares the daily, “is more important to the prosecution than human rights.” A final decision could take another year. Mainali will be out of jail and out of the country, but if closure is what he hopes for, his time for that is not yet.

Mainali’s case presents an additional motive for the prosecution, tenacious at the best of times, to dig in its heels. Mainali being foreign, his case is in the international spotlight. Nikkan Gendai quotes an unnamed prosecutor as saying, “A not guilty verdict could have international repercussions.” He presumably means it would discredit Japan’s justice system. But a guilty verdict would be no less discrediting, because few observers would believe it.

  • 11

    tmarie

    Indeed. Not only the prosecutors but the government. Deportation after this? Just let him go, I have no doubts he'd be on the first plane he could get.

    I am hoping they are going to pay him a huge payout so he doesn't ever have to work again. 15 years in jail for a crime he didn't commit? Arrested basically for being a foreigner... This country needs to deal with their monster court system.

  • 11

    sillygirl

    and just where is the real criminal? is anyone looking for him???????? the japanese court system, police and prosecuters should be ASHAMED. this should be broadcast from every country.

  • 7

    Suginamiguy

    Nikkan Gendai is pretty good in my book. In my experience, Japanese people even without knowing the facts will quite often blame the the foreigner. Very rare we see such criticism in Japan. I don`t know the facts either, but this article does seem very objective.

  • 3

    Okinawamike

    In any other world, this prosecutor and court system would be sued for imprisoning someone wrongly for 15 years. But getting him out of Japan would be the steps they will take.

  • 0

    rickyvee

    this is the first i've heard that she was a prostitute and govinda was her customer. it has also been reported that when he was first arrested, he denied even knowing her.

  • 2

    yasukuni

    "prostitute by night, by day an economist with Tokyo Electric Power Company"

    Yeah, that's surprising. No, then again ....

  • 1

    lostrune2

    If it's wrongful imprisonment, then the aggrieved should be able to sue for lost income for each day in prison.

    The appeals court should not be a place to determine guilt or innocence - only whether there's reason for appeal and thus a re-trial, or to upheld the result of the trial.

  • -1

    tensaisg@yahoo.com

    prosecutors and cops

  • 0

    SushiSake3

    I haven’t been following this case very closely so please excuse me if my comments neglect some important facts, but I was wondering – why is this guy being deported if prosecutors can’t nail down their case against him?

    I mean, what – provably – has he done wrong?

  • 6

    Ronald F Stark

    For true justice to be served the prosecuters who take part in such biased and discriminatory proceedings should face criminal charges themselves. In most civilized countries double jeapordy is not permitted; in Japan the definition has been changed so persons can be aquited, retried, aquited, and retried until a guilty verdict is reached to satisfy the prosecutor's lust for foreign blood. If Japan's image is tarnished because of a not guilty verdict than so be it. I would go one step further and recommend the United Nations issue a global travel advisory concerning the lack of human rights protections afforded foreigners visiting or residing in Japan.

    Not only was Mr Mainali wronfully convicted and imprisoned for 15 years, he was illegally detained after his first aquital following a not-guilty verdict. This in itself is a gross violation of human rights! Japan rightfully deserves the shame it brings upon itself!

  • 2

    Balefire

    SushiSake3, he overstayed his visa, and that's the reason he's being deported.

    I'd very much like to see him sue for wrongful imprisonment, but unfortunately I doubt that he'd be successful in getting much if anything out of it, and it would probably take a long time and cost him more than he can afford.

  • 3

    tokyokawasaki

    If he sues the authorities for wrongful imprisonment and loss of earnings, what the chances of the following:

    It will take many years, to make a decision on whether to pay or not.

    If paid, it will be something insulting like 300,000 yen.

    Or they will try and wriggle out of paying by claiming payments are only made to residents of Japan...

  • 3

    kurisupisu

    15 years of life wasted.

    There isn't any amount of compensation for that........

  • 2

    DoLittleBeLate

    Prosecutors are disgracing Japanese sense of justice in the international forum. They are nothing but a bad joke. Just disgusting.

  • 2

    Frank Vaughn

    A very good reason to NOT visit Japan. God forbid that a person is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not to mention just about every other country has protection from double-jeopardy, in the U.S. if the prosecution looses that's it. Even in the eastern European country where I am staying it's in their constitution against double-jeopardy for anyone citizen or not.

    I for one think the poor man should be able to approach the international court to sue the Japanese legal system for wrongful imprisonment at least he would have a fair trial and a chance of winning adequate compensation.

  • 2

    GW

    Read a LOT of really scary, stupid beyond belief stuff relating to this guys cases, thanking I think he is now left Japan, what an ordeal.

    The keystones & prosecutors were incredible their twisting of evidence, LEAVING evidence out, lieing, forcing not only confessions but getting "witnesses" to MANUFACTURE accounts of what happened, & there is one judge named takagi who was beyond the pale, thanking he died a while back so cant railroad anymore people.

    When you read about 98% conviction rate here........... can you imagine just how many are WRONGFULLY convicted, the numbers must be truly staggering!

    And here is my usual advice, if you think the keystones are onto you for anything, just head to the nearest airport & flee because you dont want to be in their sights, truth, evidence simply dont figure into here.............

  • 3

    presto345

    “A not guilty verdict could have international repercussions.”

    It's exactly this kind of remark that will feed distrust of the Japanese legal system. For which prosecutors in cases like this one are entirely responsible.

  • 0

    IncenseAndPeppermints

    Last July fresh DNA evidence linked semen and body hair found at the scene to a man other than Mainali.

    This is somewhat wrong. The DNA evidence was not fresh. How could it be after 15 years? It was old evidence that never had a DNA test done on it. So they tested the DNA in a condom in a toilet, but not the DNA left in the victim's body? Welcome to Japan! And these people have the death penalty too?

  • -1

    Thomas Anderson

    but this is basically how the system works in Japan. Bad guy = punish him hard. Good guy = punish him a little.

    Or merely perceived to be either good or bad, like having a tattoo...

  • -1

    Thomas Anderson

    I wonder if the 98% conviction rate has more to do with merely "saving face" and "not willing to admit 'defeat'", and less to do with corruption. If it is, then that would be even more disturbing. These guys are being selfish as hell.

  • 0

    taj

    Why are the prosecutors never named?

  • 0

    basroil

    tajJun. 19, 2012 - 11:02AM JST

    Why are the prosecutors never named?

    The official reason: same as why people under 20 aren't, "to protect privacy".

    Actual reasons pprobably vary, but it very likely has to do with the fact that they cannot be held accountable for their actions, and un-naming them helps in the process.

  • 0

    DoLittleBeLate

    I can see why the prosecutors would need protection. People tend to get edgy around those who take no responsibility of their own action.

  • 0

    pointofview

    Isnt framing someone against the law? Why arent these lying prosecutors being charged? The perfect example of how the real "thugs" can do what they want to anyone and everyone.

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