Last November, a 45-year-old man was stopped by police in the parking lot of a game center in Saitama City. While the officers were questioning the man, he repeatedly told them that he needed to use the restroom. However, police ignored his needs and continued to ask the man questions as well as search through his belongings.
During the encounter, the officers found some illegal drugs in his possession and arrested him for violation of the Stimulant Control Act.
In what would appear to be an open and shut case with the suspect caught red handed, Saitama District Court ruled on July 27 that the man’s arrest was illegal and cleared him of all charges. Judge Yuki Tsuyoshi explained, “By standing in the man’s way of using the toilet, police coerced him into handing over the drugs.”
It was an interesting way of seeing things. To some, it might seem more like the police were standing in the way of the man’s best chance of disposing the evidence in a privacy-ensured room complete with multiple holes and running water to wash away any and all illegal substances.
Readers of the news were also surprised by the ruling.
“I guess in Saitama, relieving oneself takes precedence over illegal drugs.”
“So I guess,all you have to do to avoid punishments is claim you really had to go during the arrest.”
“What is this?!”
“But the guy was holding the drugs!”
“Is this judge stupid?”
It certainly is a predicament for law enforcement. On the one hand, officers abusing their authority and overstepping on people’s human rights is a serious issue that needs to be kept in check. Then again, it doesn’t take much to find something suspicious about a guy suddenly getting a painful urge to use the bathroom just as he’s about to get searched for drugs, especially when, you know, he was found to actually have drugs on his person.
Sources: NHK News Web, Hachima Kiko
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