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Nepal man who served 15 yrs in prison acquitted of 1997 murder

43 Comments

A Nepalese who spent 15 "horrible and torturous" years in a Japanese jail for a murder he did not commit was formally acquitted on Wednesday after a retrial.

Govinda Prasad Mainali, 46, was declared not guilty by the Tokyo High Court at a short hearing, even though he had been deported to Nepal weeks ago after his conviction was quashed.

The same court had in 2000 found him guilty of killing a 39-year-old woman and sentenced him to life in prison, overturning a lower court's not-guilty verdict.

The Supreme Court upheld Mainali's life sentence in 2003.

Mainali told reporters in Kathmandu that Wednesday's pronouncement was something for which he had been waiting a long time.

"To see this day, I have spent 15 years of my life inside the four walls, resorting to quiet communication with myself," he said.

"I have prayed to God and asked: what mistake have I committed? God was the only witness of my pleas."

The murder attracted lurid headlines, particularly in the tabloid press, which said the victim was leading a double life as an elite businesswoman at Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) by day and a prostitute by night.

Police in 1997 arrested Mainali, who knew the victim and lived near the Tokyo apartment where her strangled body was found.

Mainali, who had always maintained his innocence, officially asked Japan's slow-moving justice system for a retrial in 2005. It was granted only this year.

Fresh DNA evidence, also tested only this year, proved the original probe had overlooked the fact that semen found inside the woman was not Mainali's.

DNA samples collected from her nails as well as body hair found in the room were a match with the semen, further supporting Mainali's claim that he was not the killer, according to local media.

"I was forced to undergo 15 years of horrible and torturous time in jail despite being innocent," he said. "Had the DNA test not been conducted, I would have been languishing in jail and probably would have died there."

The case has led to media questioning of Japan's justice system and particularly the work of prosecutors, who take a leading role in criminal investigations.

Japan has a very high rate of convictions and relies heavily on confessions. Suspects can be held for many weeks while police make their case.

Critics say this leads to abuses where those arrested are ground down until they give investigators what they want.

Mainali was released from jail in June when his conviction was overturned. He was sent back to Nepal by immigration authorities because he had -- during his time in prison -- overstayed his visa.

But the court still went ahead with the retrial, which opened at the start of last week with the prosecution saying it now believed he was innocent.

After going into recess to consider the verdict, presiding judge Shoji Ogawa said there was "a reasonable doubt" that Mainali was the guilty party.

Mainali said he had not yet decided whether to seek compensation from Japanese authorities and was discusing his options with his lawyers.

No one else has been arrested in connection with the murder.

© (C) 2012 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

43 Comments
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Wonder how we're going to repay him for the past 15 years behind bars.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Wonder how we're going to repay him for the past 15 years behind bars.

Japan deported him, how humane, not even a sorry.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@Tiger,

Wonder how we're going to repay him for the past 15 years behind bars.

When the bean counters are done, they will probably send him a bill for food and lodging costs.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Japan shud step up apologize & compensate the guy..............................I know unlikely.

When will the prosecuters in this country BE PROSECUTED as they are guilty as HELL!! Thousands of times over!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The case attracted lurid headlines, particularly in the tabloid press, which said the victim was leading a double life as an elite businesswoman with Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) by day and a prostitute by night.

Fortunately, AFP is NOT about to stoop to including lurid details!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A lot of us got it wrong at that time when we threw our weight behind the Nick Baker case resulting in the Govinda Prasad case and his supporters being overshadowed . Can we forgive ourselves for backing the guilty because of our own blindness to justice.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Mainali said he had not yet decided whether to seek compensation from Japanese authorities and was discusing his options with his lawyers.

His lawyers will probably tell him he "isn't eligible" for compensation, send him a bill for their services, then get a nice fat bribe from the police commissioner for not making them look as bad as they should.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

15years in one's life is a very long time especially during his prime life. There was no apology on the government part in committing such dreadful miss justices to him. He should file for compensation and a large one too. Having said that the Japanese Judicial system really need an overhaul.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Everything about this case is disgusting and smacks of racism. Reports because he overstated his visa while sitting in jail and innocent. Appalling.

I hope he sues and gets millions. I also hopes he gets an apology from the government but I won't hold my breath.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Poor thing, I doubt he will get an appology, lets just hope he get paid a good compensation to last him for the rest of his life.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What a guy!

Japan has a very high rate of convictions and relies heavily on confessions. Suspects can be held for many weeks while police make their case.

How long will the Japanese believe in their delusion that their system is just perfect and is beyond any criticism or concern? How long until some random Japanese comes to defend this nonsensical system and deny that they can create a flawed system?

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Good on him. May the rest of his days be spent enjoying his freedom.

Now, Japanese Police - how about next time going out and trying to catch the real criminal - not simply pin the crime on a gaijin? Oh, that's right - that would involve too much work.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

15 years !!!!

The food must have been terrible, the guards force him to wake up,sleep, eat, and clean when they issue orders.

Must have been HELL eating plain rice and terrible food each day.

COLD AND DARK prison cells.

I'm really sorry man, I hope you will have forgiveness in your heart and receive compensation.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

what happened to him can happen to any one in japan, so this crime and injustice is not only against Mr,Govinda Prasad Mainali it is against humanity, the only composition is to change the judicial and police system in japan

7 ( +8 / -1 )

basroilNov. 07, 2012 - 07:33PM JST

His lawyers will probably tell him he "isn't eligible" for compensation, send him a bill for their services, then get a nice fat bribe from the police commissioner for not making them look as bad as they should.

As someone who was involved in the Govinda case for over 10 years, let me tell you that the lawyers worked for free and most of his supporters, financial and otherwise, apart from his family, were Japanese.

When the Supreme Court confirmed his sentence in 2003, I'd given up on Govinda. Luckily my wife and others had not. Apart from myself, and I was along because of the wife, I never saw a non-Asian face among those at the meetings.

Well done the Japanese people and shame on the legal system in Japan.

Govinda didn't help himself by being a visa over stayer,dicking Yasuko and changing his story a number of times. However that doesn't excuse the save face mentality at the price of true justice which meant that Govinda had to spend 15 years in prison, instead of a few, for a miscarriage of justice which could have happened anywhere.

Now I want to know whose DNA it was; my bet is that it was one of her managers at TEPCO as a lot of people have speculated.

9 ( +10 / -2 )

Another crime someone at TEPCO got away with?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What a strong man. C'mon Japan, grow a pair. Safety country indeed...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Another good arguement against the death penalty, methinks....I'm glad he got out with something of his life left. If average compensation is about Y10,000,000 a year he should be in for at least a $1.5M compensation for this. What really seems odd is that the court earlier had overturned a not guilty verdict. Ouch! Poor guy. I hope he gets something for his suffering.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Good Lord how does a country repay him for 15 years in a Japanese prison? Then he gets deported as well. I write a lot about Japanese "justice" and cases like this shake my faith. It is easy to shake the finger of blame and it seems the entire system failed this man. The question is how to fix the system to prevent it from happening again?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

How horrid and how typical of the Japanese "justice " system. One where the death penalty is still an option. One can only wonder how many innocent people have been executed at the hands of the Japanese courts. And how did this happen? Arrested and kept away from legal representation for up to a month, interviewed (mental torture) without being videotaped. Led to a court with imperfect translators, beat up in the press as "foreign monster' left to rot in an inhumane prison fighting for 15 years when the proper checks and balances might have seen him never have faced trial.

What hope is there for justice in Japan?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Dog, I am curious as to your role in this story--A neighbor perhaps? Working in the legal profession or an expat support group? Anyway thank you for the background to this story. Things are never as clearcut as we might imagine them to be. In a rigid system of justice like Japan's, any misstep by a gaijin defendant during the investigation or subsequent hearings is likely to be used as strong evidence against him or her.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

ChubakaNov. 08, 2012 - 05:28AM JST

Dog, I am curious as to your role in this story--A neighbor perhaps? Working in the legal profession or an expat support group?

No expat support group, a Japanese support group and sending money every so often. The wife was the one more involved and I just tagged along.

Glad I could do something but I really thought it was game over, when the Supreme court upheld the guilty verdict. Luckily others didn't think the same as me.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

We have to pray that we don't get picked up in some mistaken identity mixup. Once picked up we would be mincemeat in this corrupt judicial system. Sad state of affairs in this "greater good" society.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Japan's Justice System is dumb.. They should be report to UN.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Japan's so-called justice system is not just dumb. It is criminal. What was done to this Nepalese man was an ugly, ugly crime. The most evil thing about the Japanese "justice" system is it allows people to be retried for the same crime after they are found innocent.

Truly, the monster in the Japanese closet is the police and prosecution systems. The most dangerous criminals in Japan are the police and the prosecutors: forced confessions and kangaroo courts.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Its a good thing he wasn't put to death. I hope the pro death penalty people on this board understand why people are against the death penalty. This man deserves an apology and atleast a million yen for each year in confinement. Only time will tell.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

get an undisclosed amount monetary compensation, an official apology, automatic residency and a book deal.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Its great to see that there are support groups in Japan that are like the Innocence Project you find in the USA and other countries. I'm just wondering what got the support group to take up his case in the first place. Japanese police and prosecutors go on the premise that you are guilty and must prove your innocence.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

what happened to him can happen to any one in japan,

Not just in Japan but anywhere in the world.

Though this man deserves an apology and compensation from the Japanese authorities. Though nothing will ever give him back those 15 years that were lost in prison.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The J - "justice" system as I have sent for many years is a system brutal dictators DREAM OF HAVING!

Anyone can become trapped & tossed in jail forever at ANYTIME!

So, if you even remotely think the cops are after you for something, EVEN if you are 1000000000% innocent you need to hit the nearest airport & flee its your ONLY shot at a chance of JUSTICE, if you stay & are picked up, its pretty much a done deal YOU GO BEHIND BARS!

As another poster said the UN shud be here investiagting crimes against humanity as there are many thousands of them & increasing EVERY DAY!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Not just in Japan but anywhere in the world.

In most advanced nations a fair trial is guaranteed.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And yet, even knowing this, half the posters on this board and around 80% of the Japanese population will still support the death sentence for convicted murderers. Plenty of regular JT posters will demand the next convicted murderer be strung up immediately to save their tax yen. Blind faith in the Japanese justice system will remain, even when cases like this one are brought to light. TIJ.

Bingoooooooooooooo. Will people ever learn...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

DogNOV. 07, 2012 - 11:52PM JST basroilNov. 07, 2012 - 07:33PM JST His lawyers will probably tell him he "isn't eligible" for compensation, send him a bill for their services, then get a nice fat bribe from the police commissioner for not making them look as bad as they should. As someone who was involved in the Govinda case for over 10 years, let me tell you that the lawyers worked for free and most of his supporters, financial and otherwise, apart from his family, were Japanese. When the Supreme Court confirmed his sentence in 2003, I'd given up on Govinda. Luckily my wife and others had not. Apart from myself, and I was along because of the wife, I never saw a non-Asian face among those at the meetings. Well done the Japanese people and shame on the legal system in Japan. Govinda didn't help himself by being a visa over stayer,dicking Yasuko and changing his story a number of times. However that doesn't excuse the save face mentality at the price of true justice which meant that Govinda had to spend 15 years in prison, instead of a few, for a miscarriage of justice which could have happened anywhere. Now I want to know whose DNA it was; my bet is that it was one of her managers at TEPCO as a lot of people have speculated.

Well said Dog!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Since I was one of the first to crack a joke about the compensation. I sort of feel obliged to do this.

From the japan times article:

'Mainali now has the right to receive compensation from the state for the time he was arrested in May 1997 until he was released from prison last June 7. Based on the law, he could receive up to around Y70 million.'

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Based on the law, he could receive up to around Y70 million.'

I hope that money is paid out of the prosecutors and judges' salaries.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Innocent people being convicted and imprisoned for something they didn't do happens in the USA also. Believe me, it happens more than it should. Quite a few people have had their past convictions overturned due to DNA testing which exonerated them. Something that wasn't available when they were first convicted. In some of the cases the original prosecutors never came forward to apologize.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

my bet is that it was one of her managers at TEPCO as a lot of people

Guilt by inundation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No apologies from the prosecutors. Horrible people! I hope he sues for as much money as he can possibly get. In addition, expose the racist system here in Japan that railroaded him simply because he is foreign.

It’s a modern age. When is Japan going to set aside its racist ways & get with the modern world?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Mark ElrodNov. 08, 2012 - 03:06PM JST

It’s a modern age. When is Japan going to set aside its racist ways & get with the modern world?

Good question. Judging from the (suspicious) lack of support for change, no time soon.

There's no hope for mutts here, especially if when they don't care to stand up for injustice and call others racists.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This should have made international news but it never did so nothing will change.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In most advanced nations a fair trial is guaranteed.

You're telling me that the UK, US, Germany etc haven't made at least one mistake in recent history by sending a innocent person to prison?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

It must be a hellish existence serving the sentence you know someone else is supposed to serve instead of you. 15 years robbed of your existence. Just because the police can't be bothered to care enough.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The most evil thing about the Japanese "justice" system is it allows people to be retried for the same crime after they are found innocent.

Isn't it just as evil not be able to retry someone guilty of a crime ?

And What about the other poor victim, the murdered one , with no life and no hope and no possible chance of compensation???

Considering this is about justice or lack of it , there are a lot of comments here with people setting themselves up as Judge , Jury and executioner,

Hopefully he will get compensation and hopefully Dog's wife will continue to show an interest in cases like this for both foreigners and Japanese alike.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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