crime

Man released on drug charges because police wouldn’t let him use toilet

20 Comments
By SoraNews24

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

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- High-level yakuza member arrested for possession of 17kg of salt

-- Former police drug investigator arrested for drug possession, claims he didn’t know it was drugs

-- [Tokyo police arrest teen for having knife 2mm too long, released because type of knife mistaken](Tokyo police arrest teen for having knife 2mm too long, released because type of knife mistaken)

© SoraNews24

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20 Comments
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While the Japanese police have often been accused of taking a dump all over suspects' rights, this wicked pissah of a case is certainly one of the more interesting cases I've heard of.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Did anyone (or the judge for that matter) come to think that his arrest for drugs could have saved another person's life. What if he was released, did his drugs and caused an accident? We see so often in the news about some stoned idiot causing an accident and hurting or killing someone. With the police on this one.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

At the time of arrest, he is presumed innocent. Counter to many posters on JT's claims, innocence is presumed by the law in Japan. They took him into the police station, which is their right, but he had to use the toilet, which as someone presumed to be innocent, he should have had the right to do. They denied him access to the bathroom, unless he was willing to give up a right that he has - the right to not be searched without reason (and yes, this law exists in Japan, again, counter to the claims of many posters on JT). So he gave up that right, and they found the drugs.

In America, they call this the fruit of the poisoned tree. The evidence was only obtained through illegal means, and therefore it cannot be used as evidence against the defendant, as the police should never have had that evidence in the first place, had they followed the law.

Without the evidence that he possessed drugs, they cannot charge him with possessing drugs, and therefore the only thing they can do is let him go.

Did anyone (or the judge for that matter) come to think that his arrest for drugs could have saved another person's life.

It doesn't matter. The law cannot make decisions based on things they are worried about, the law must make decisions based on the law. That's why lady justice is blindfolded. The law can't just start making exceptions because of feelings. No, the law needs to be changed if someone doesn't like a specific law. That's the whole point of a law - it's law. And both presumption of innocence, as well as freedom from unreasonable search, are basic human rights we all have, that protect us all from abuse of law by the police. While that results occasionally in cases like the one we are reading about, it's a MUCH better situation than allowing the police free reign to do whatever they want.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

Ridiculous. Probably he thought he'd have a chance to escape if he could get to a toilet.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Strangerland, total understand and agree with your points however, being a former MP, I still believe that it is also the police's job to protect the innocent and prevent others from being harmed by people who only think of themselves. Sadly to say, sometimes the laws work too much in the favor of criminals.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

I still believe that it is also the police's job to protect the innocent and prevent others from being harmed by people who only think of themselves.

Sure, but they have to do it within the framework of the law. The other way of looking at this case is that the police never had a legal way to have this guy charged and convicted, due to the legal framework in place to protect the rights of the people from unreasonable search, seizure, and conviction, but by doing it the way they did, at least they got the drugs off the street. When viewed under that lens, they accomplished the goal of preventing others from harm, even if it wasn't by securing a conviction against this man.

Sadly to say, sometimes the laws work too much in the favor of criminals.

This I disagree with fully. The laws work in favor of the people, to protect them from abuses of power by the police. The fact that sometimes criminals get this defense as well is a requirement of a healthy society, and it's up to the police to get convictions while not abusing their power. We cannot lament that the framework doesn't allow them to abuse their power.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

StrangerlandToday 08:29 am JSTAt the time of arrest, he is presumed innocent. Counter to many posters on JT's claims, innocence is presumed by the law in Japan. They took him into the police station, which is their right, but he had to use the toilet, which as someone presumed to be innocent, he should have had the right to do.

a few things in this salad of a comment. first of all, no where in the article did it state that they took him to the koban to question him. it appears they questioned him in the parking lot.

second if you are innocent until proven guilty in japan, then why can the police hold you for 23 days without a lawyer present and without charging you of a crime? that doesn't exactly fit the bill of what you say. in japan you are definitely guilty until you can prove you're innocent.

third, to me this is an example of "stop and frisk," which is a legal gray area in japan, and in the states, too. but if the suspect wasn't acting suspicious in the parking lot then the police had not right to search his belongings.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Agree with the judge. Arrested people have rights. If he would have been about to drop the drug in the toiled, so be it. Japanese police is notorious for showing a smile, while stumping over your rights... forcefully interrogating the suspects... threatening uneducated people with arrest or fine charges... Drug possession for personal use is not such a public threatening (not so much worse than getting drunk every night, answering the phone while driving or typing on the phone while cycling with earphones). Japan have this obsessive whichhunt attitude against drugs (particularly light drugs) that in other countries are becoming more and more legal, while more serious lawbreaking continue to happen.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

first of all, no where in the article did it state that they took him to the koban to question him. it appears they questioned him in the parking lot.

You're right. I injected what would appear to be an incorrect assumption. Reading through some articles in Japanese, it appears they made him take a dump in a public toilet, which would indicate that they weren't at the police station. That doesn't really change anything I wrote though.

second if you are innocent until proven guilty in japan, then why can the police hold you for 23 days without a lawyer present and without charging you of a crime?

You are not presumed guilty at that time, so i'm unsure how you are using this point as some sort of counter to what I said.

in japan you are definitely guilty until you can prove you're innocent.

Nope. The law presumes innocence over guilt. I supposed I should give an example to prove my point. How about this very article you are reading, which let him go due to the presumption of innocence over guilt, as I explained here:

In America, they call this the fruit of the poisoned tree. The evidence was only obtained through illegal means, and therefore it cannot be used as evidence against the defendant, as the police should never have had that evidence in the first place, had they followed the law.

Without the evidence that he possessed drugs, they cannot charge him with possessing drugs, and therefore the only thing they can do is let him go.

If guilt were presumed, he would be locked up anyways, even with the fruit of the poisoned tree.

this is an example of "stop and frisk," which is a legal gray area in japan

No it's not. The police in Japan are not allowed to search without reason or permission. There are grey areas as to what constitutes reason, but it is not illegal to act suspicious in Japan, and does not constitute justification of unreasonable search. Again, read the article.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The key to the case here is the fact that he was not under arrest at the time he asked to go to the bathroom. The police do not have a right to detain you basically unless they have a warrant or they have caught you in the act or believe you are about to commit an offence.

What they do in practice is to ask you to "voluntarily" submit to questioning. If you refuse to cooperate then depending on the circumstances (like you try to do a runner) they would have grounds to turn that from "voluntary" questioning to legal detention. But if you just ask to go to the bathroom, since there is nothing intrinsically suspicious about that, from that point on they were clearly involuntarily detaining him without any basis for doing so.

second if you are innocent until proven guilty in japan, then why can the police hold you for 23 days without a lawyer present and without charging you of a crime? that doesn't exactly fit the bill of what you say. in japan you are definitely guilty until you can prove you're innocent.

This is mostly true, but its not really evidence of a presumption of guilt, rather its just a really bad way of protecting the presumption of innocence. You actually do have a right to consult with a lawyer during that 23 days, but what you don't have is a right to have your lawyer present while the police are interrogating you during that time (ie you have to meet the lawyer during a break from interrogation, etc).

3 ( +3 / -0 )

That’s it. I’m reading no more news today. Got my full day’s entertainment dose here.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"second if you are innocent until proven guilty in japan, then why can the police hold you for 23 days without a lawyer present and without charging you of a crime? that doesn't exactly fit the bill of what you say. in japan you are definitely guilty until you can prove you're innocent." True - the law presumes innocence, and the police assume guilt - and if you can't prove a negative, i.e. that you didn't do it, you get banged up. Catch 22.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sorry but how can the suspect prove he needed to go to toilet ? Did he dump in front of them to show it ?

Otherwise, it does mean any person to be questioned and not yet caught red handed can ask to go to the toilet and get rid of evidence each time. If so, crime to skyrocket !

Surely he smell or behave strange if he was a drug user, even a light one...

By the way, can't a police officer accompany him and stay with him at the time of his "duty"? (In my country allowed)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Bottom line is that the coppers weren’t following protocol, and by not doing so the judge let the perp go on a technicality. Happens all the time.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A person arrested in Japan must appear before a judge within 72 hours. These judges appear to serve little purpose, only to rubber stamp the request of the police/prosecutor to detain the suspect for 10 days, followed by another 10 days (in squalid conditions in police stations).

It this this judge who should have spotted the police abuse of power and released the defendant.

It isgood to see a DIstrict Court Judge in Japan who has an independant mind of their own.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

...... second if you are innocent until proven guilty in japan, then why can the police hold you for 23 days without a lawyer present.

Apparently (in Japan) when questioned by the police everybody has the right to remain silent and the right to have a lawyer present. If the police are refusing access to a lawyer, they must be abusing their authority.

Foriegn natonals arrested in Japan have the right to request access to their countries embassy at any time. If the police refuse this, then again they are abusing their authority.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They maybe need a room with a bucket (fitted with a seat).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Since1981:

If you don't mind me asking, you said you were an MP. It sounds like you served as minister of public safety too, while as an MP. Which country's parliament?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

juminRhee- You are confusing the British English term MP with the American one. In the United States, MP is short for Military Police.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Surely he smell or behave strange if he was a drug user, even a light one...

Why would he smell strange?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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