A Nepalese man who had been convicted of murder of a woman employed by Tokyo Electric Power Co. was finally acquitted in the retrial court session. He, Mr. Govinda Prasad Mainali, had served in prison for as long as over 15 years, and the false accusation has disclosed a dark side of criminal justice. A third-party investigation mechanism is necessary in order that such misrepresentation may not be repeated.
ESTABLSH A THIRD-PARTY INVESTIGATION PROCESS
Mr. Mainali released a hand-written letter after he had been informed of his acquittal in the retrial in absentia, saying 'the Japanese police, prosecutors' office and court, please, fix what is wrong, thinking well over what had happened'. The comment is part of his letter sent through the association which had supported hm.
Chief lawyer Kamiyama Hiroshi pointed out sternly, after the Tokyo High Court had stated the accused as not guilty, that: 'the court is the first to be blamed. A third party mechanism should work to verify facts'.
The lawyer continued to say, criticizing, that: 'the initial court judged innocent, casting doubt on several points. But the higher courts, the high court and the Supreme Court, without replying to the doubts, had branded high-handedly the ruling as wrong'. Lawyer Kamiyama expressed anger as the very principle of criminal court had been neglected that what is doubtful must be dealt with in favor of defendants.
Listen to Voices of Being Innocent
The current criminal court is usually led with the initiative of prosecutors. It is called 'prosecutor's judiciary', which invokes severe criticisms. Mr. Mainali was wrongfully convicted in the circumstances where judges are controlled by prosecutors.
It may be quite hard for court judges to present a conclusion opposite to the indictment of prosecutors in the criminal case as the latter enjoys enormous authority and boasts of organized potential. In other words judges are used to following a decision of 'conviction' provided by prosecutors. A success rate in favor of prosecutors reaches 99.9% in terms of guilty decisions.
However, as far as this case is concerned, Mr. Mainali has consistently asserted that he had never committed the crime and the initial court had acquitted, raising doubts against the prosecutors' accusations. It was necessary for the high court and the Supreme Court to behave sincerely enough to listen to his coherent claim.
One more important lesson the case has presented is a problem of evidence disclosure. The prosecutors are exempt from obligations to open all the proofs, so they withhold evidences that may impact on them unfavorably. Taking advantage of this privilege, prosecutors, consequently, delayed a DNA test based on the most sophisticated technologies.
On the side of defendant lawyers nobody has exact information on evidences that exist. In order to avoid false accusations prosecutors must be obliged by laws to disclose all the evidences available.
It is also necessary to oblige prosecutors to preserve evidences in the good conditions for re-examination.
Prosecutor's Appeal Must be Banned
Furthermore it is necessary to ban prosecutors to lodge an appeal to a higher court when the initial court decided not guilty. It is because the court expressed doubt to the conviction. Such a law corresponds to the rule that what is doubtful must be dealt with in favor of defendants.
Mr. Mainali continued to say that: 'finally the decision of the initial court has been approved right'.
It is far more important not to punish an innocent person than to punish a criminal.
November 20, 2012