KATHMANDU, Nov 7: The Tokyo High Court on Wednesday acquitted Govinda Prasad Mainali, admitting on the basis of DNA tests that he was totally innocent. Mainali served 15 years in prison in Japan for a rape and murder he didn´t commit.
The court has conceded that there was evidence a third-party committed the crime and maintained that Mainali was innocent from the beginning. It was the same court that had imposed a prison sentence on Mainali, accusing him of murdering a 39-year-old Japanese woman.
Soon after the Tokyo High Court ruling, Mainali organized a press conference in Kathmandu and said, “An attempt to cover the truth has failed and I spent 15 years in prison to see this day. Finally I have justice.” Earlier in July, the court had quashed an appeal against a retrial of the Mainali case, paving the way for him to get a clean chit in the high-profile case.
On June 7, the High Court Public Prosecutor´s Office had lodged an objection shortly after a high court decision to grant a retrial of the case.
Though Mainali was released from prison after being granted retrial, he was immediately deported to Nepal because he had been in Japan illegally at the time of his arrest.
At the press conference, Mainali said, “The Tokyo Police, administration and court should admit the mistake and make an apology for imposing punishment unanimously without a systematic and scientific investigation of the case.” However, the court has not expressed any words of apology in its final ruling, according to Mainali.
Mainali pleaded not guilty in the original trial and a Tokyo District Court judge concurred. However, prosecutors immediately filed an appeal and secured a guilty verdict at Tokyo High Court in December, 2000. The Supreme Court defended that decision in October, 2003.
Mainali said that no one listened to him when he pleaded innocent. “I would have died in prison in the absence of the DNA test and I am still surprised why such a test was delayed.” The DNA test was carried out on the basis of 42 pieces of evidence found on the spot, including hair and sperm on the deceased and things inside nails.
Amnesty International has expressed serious concern over the case and said, “The acquittal of a man who spent 15 years in prison for a murder he did not commit is a sharp reminder why Japan must reform its police detention system.”
According to Amnesty, Mainali was denied access to lawyers and was beaten, kicked and pinned against the wall by police officers during interrogations.
“Mainali´s acquittal shines a spotlight not only on the injustice he has suffered but on a system which unless reformed will perpetuate violations of international fair trial standards,” said Rajiv Narayan, Amnesty International´s Japan researcher.
Both Amnesty International and the UN had repeatedly called on Japan to repeal or substantially reform the system related to Japan´s human rights treaty obligations.