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2013年8月 3日 (土)

大阪誤認逮捕 ずさんな捜査に驚かされる

The Yomiuri Shimbun August 3, 2013
Mistaken arrest by Osaka police apalling result of sloppy probe
大阪誤認逮捕 ずさんな捜査に驚かされる(8月2日付・読売社説)

Police and prosecutors are urged to seriously reflect on and make a thorough probe of their handling of a theft case that can only be described as extremely sloppy.

In connection with the theft that happened in January at a gas station in Sakai, the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office’s Sakai branch has nullified the indictment against a male company employee and apologized to him. Osaka prefectural police, for their part, have admitted it was a mistaken arrest.

The man was detained for 85 days--even though he did not have any connection with the case. He wound up suspended from work. During interrogations, investigators frequently addressed him harshly, without the customary honorific title after his name, and insulted him by saying, “You’re not normal.” This can be seen as a serious infringement of human rights.

The biggest reason for the mistaken arrest was simply an investigation based on the presumption that he was the perpetrator.

A credit card stolen from a parked car was used at the gas station. Osaka prefectural police checked security camera images and found that the man was shown at the gas station at the time when the card was used to buy gasoline. Police decided this image was sufficient evidence to arrest him.

However, an investigation by his lawyers found that the clock on the security camera was fast. Just one minute after the theft was committed, the man was found to have driven his car through a highway entrance about six kilometers away from the gas station.

This means that it was actually impossible for him to have committed the crime. He had an alibi that could prove his innocence. Osaka police neglected to conduct a corroborative probe that should be a basic part of an investigation. They reportedly failed to recognize their mistake until it was uncovered as a result of the lawyers’ investigation. This is truly outrageous.

A bitter lesson missed

Overreliance on a single piece of evidence led to the mistaken arrest. Osaka police committed the same mistake they made last year in connection with an incident in which threatening e-mails were sent from remotely controlled personal computers infected with viruses. An anime director was arrested for allegedly sending an e-mail threatening mass murder via his home computer. Police made the mistaken arrest because they attached too much importance to a single piece of evidence--the computer’s IP address. When dealing with the theft case, police showed they had failed to learn what should have been a bitter lesson.

What both cases have in common is that the Osaka police would not listen to the suspects’ denials of the allegations.

Prosecutors should also be strongly blamed. They indicted the man without closely examining the evidence offered by police. They failed to fulfill their function of checking police investigations.

They opposed the man’s request to be released and refused to let family members visit him. The man would have spent even more time being illegitimately detained if the lawyers had not proved his alibi.

The man persistently denied being involved in the crime. But there have been many instances in which suspects have admitted to crimes after being detained over a long period.

“Hostage justice,” the practice of not releasing defendants who deny the charges against them, is a big factor behind false charges.

How detention should work is under discussion at a special panel of the Justice Ministry’s Legislative Council that is promoting a review of the criminal justice system. This is because the existing detention rules have been called ambiguous. The latest incident must be used to reexamine the practice of hostage justice.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 2, 2013)
(2013年8月2日01時36分  読売新聞)


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