« 米大統領選 続投オバマ氏を待つ財政の崖 | トップページ | 32Red Mobile - Android & iPhone lineup »

2012年11月 9日 (金)

東電OL事件 再審無罪で冤罪の検証が要る

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 9, 2012)
Investigators, judicial authorities should review Mainali's case
東電OL事件 再審無罪で冤罪の検証が要る(11月8日付・読売社説)

Fifteen years after a female employee of Tokyo Electric Power Co. was killed in 1997, the acquittal of Govinda Prasad Mainali has been finalized at last. Investigation and judicial authorities bear heavy responsibility as they convicted an innocent person.

In a retrial, which concluded Wednesday, the Tokyo High Court acquitted the 46-year-old Nepalese man of the murder, for which he had been sentenced to life imprisonment.

It was a reasonable conclusion to reach considering the court judged it highly likely a third person was the real culprit. The prosecution abandoned its right to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The decisive factor leading to the acquittal was evidence from material found underneath the victim's nails, from which DNA from a third person was detected.

The ruling placed great importance on the DNA results, saying, "It can be assumed the woman grabbed the culprit's hands and struggled hard to break his grip when she was strangled to death."

It was in January 2007, while Mainali was serving his term in prison, that the defense demanded prosecutors examine the material under the victim's nails. The prosecutors, however, went so far as to deny its existence, saying, "Nothing was found from [the victim's] nails."

Subsequently, a third person's DNA was found in bodily fluid left on the woman's breast, among other items--a finding leading to the decision to grant Mainali a retrial.


Attitudes a 'serious problem'

Prosecutors, driven into a corner by the finding, then examined the material found under the nails, even though they had earlier claimed there was no such evidence. However, the same person's DNA was found in the material.

To our chagrin, prosecutors have become defiant, claiming they never concealed evidence. They have maintained a stance to never admit their mistakes, nor review their process in prosecuting Mainali.

We find this kind of attitude a serious problem.

The public's distrust in prosecutors will only grow unless they rectify their stance of withholding evidence detrimental to their cases.

In January last year, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations made a proposal to the public, saying an organization to examine cases in which people were falsely accused of crimes should be set up in the Diet. The proposal called for the organization to be independent both from investigative and judicial authorities.

It may be difficult for prosecutors to continue to ignore the proposal if they do not undertake reforms on their own.


Courts took away freedom

It is also necessary for judicial authorities to do some serious soul-searching on this case. The high court handed down a guilty sentence to Mainali by overturning an acquittal verdict at the district court--a decision upheld by the Supreme Court. These false judgments deprived him of years of freedom.

Mainali released a statement to prosecution and judicial authorities, saying, "I'd like you to fully review and consider why I went through this." They must respond to his request.

The Metropolitan Police Department plans to reinvestigate the case. The DNA discovered before finalizing Mainali's acquittal is surely important evidence to finding the true culprit. The MPD should undertake an all-out investigation of this case.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 8, 2012)
(2012年11月8日02時00分  読売新聞)


« 米大統領選 続投オバマ氏を待つ財政の崖 | トップページ | 32Red Mobile - Android & iPhone lineup »





« 米大統領選 続投オバマ氏を待つ財政の崖 | トップページ | 32Red Mobile - Android & iPhone lineup »