Japan court acquits Mainali of 1997 murder
The Tokyo High Court has acquitted a Nepali national who was sentenced to life for the killing of a Japanese woman in 1997, local media reported.
|Govinda Prasad Mainali
Govinda Mainali (46), who was kept in prison for 15 years before being freed and deported in June, was found not guilty, in absentia, in the retrial that began on October 29.
The slain woman was an employee of Tokyo Electric Power Co. She is believed to have been engaged in prostitution. The body of the woman, whose name has been withheld, was found in a vacant apartment in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward. Mainali, who lived nearby, was acquainted with her.
The key piece of evidence against Mainali was a used condom found in a toilet of the apartment containing semen that, according to tests at the time, matched Mainali's DNA. However, a urologist later testified the semen specimen greatly predated the woman's murder.
During the first session of the retrial, which lasted only about half an hour, the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office had admitted that based on current evidence the "possibility of another person being the culprit cannot be denied."
Tokyo police are now moving toward re-investigating the case.
Mainali was acquitted in April 2000 by the Tokyo District Court, which said it could not rule out the likelihood of another man as culprit, but the high court in December that year overturned the ruling.
Mainali had gone to Japan in 1994, leaving his wife and two daughters behind in Nepal.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International in a statement on Wednesday said that Mainali's acquittal was a sharp reminder that Japan must reform its police detention system. "When initially arrested, Mainali was denied access to lawyers and was beaten, kicked and pinned against the wall by police officers during interrogations," said the rights watchdog.
Both Amnesty International and the UN have repeatedly called on Japan to repeal or substantially reform this system as it violates Japan’s human rights treaty obligations. Amnesty said there are no rules on the length of interrogations, which are not fully recorded and which lawyers are not permitted to attend.
"Necessary reforms include ensuring detainees have unhindered access to legal counsel, including during interrogations, electronic monitoring as well as audio and video recordings of the entire process of interrogations for use in criminal trials and surveillance in custody facilities," said the statement. nepalnews.com