KATHMANDU, June 30: Even as the decision of Tokyo High Court to grant a retrial paved the way for Govinda Prasad Mainali to return home after serving 15 years in prison, the actual retrial of the high-profile murder case he was charged in has yet to begin in Japan.
Informed sources said it will take a minimum of six months to one year for the retrial to begin as the High Court is yet to start hearings on the appeal of Tokyo Public Prosecutors Office against the retrial.
"Though the court´s decision to uphold its previous ruling to suspend the life sentence made it possible for Mainali to return home, the actual retrial of the murder case has not begun as the court is yet to start hearing on the appeal of public prosecutors against the retrial," Nepalese ambassador to Japan, Madan Bhattarai, told Republica over telephone.
The Tokyo High Court suspended the life sentence and also ordered a retrial on June 8 on the basis of a new DNA testing, which suggested that Mainali, who was serving life for murdering 39-year-old female employee of Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) in 1997, may be innocent. But the Tokyo High Court Public Prosecutors Office had lodged an objection shortly after the high court´s decisions.
The High Court had twice turned down the appeal -- first with Bench No 4 and then with Bench No 5 -- of prosecutors against Mainali´s release.
Ambassador Bhattarai said it may take six months to one year for the court to conclude hearings on the appeal and give verdict on whether to uphold its previous ruling for a retrial.
The retrial on the case begins only after the High Court upholds its previous decision to order retrial on the case based on the finding of DNA testing. “As an embassy, we have been doing all from our side to help Mainali. But we cannot do anything until the court gives him a clean chit,” Bhattarai further said.
In a press conference organized on June 20, a few days after Mainali´s return to Kathmandu, Japanese Minister for Justice Makoto Taki had said there is a need to study the issue for future retrial. Minister Taki had also expressed concerns that Mainali will likely not be present for the retrial at the Tokyo High Court.
Upon his arrival from Japan in Kathmandu, Mainali had publicly alleged that Japanese prison guards had meted out torture on him. But Minister Taki had also denied the allegation outright, saying that there were no records of Mainali receiving medical treatment that would support his allegation.