Falsely accused Nepalese man step closer to exoneration

October 29, 2012

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

After 15 years of insisting that Govinda Prasad Mainali murdered a woman, prosecutors finally admitted on Oct. 29 they were wrong in the Nepalese man's retrial in Tokyo High Court that lasted less than 30 minutes.

While Mainali, 46, spent 15 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit before being freed in June, prosecutors who presented their case in the retrial before the court offered no apology.

Instead, they took about two minutes to state that evidence pointed to the possibility that another individual was likely involved in the 1997 murder of a 39-year-old Tokyo Electric Power Co. woman employee and that Mainali was innocent.

The Tokyo High Court is expected to hand down its formal verdict of not guilty on Nov. 7.

After the session ended at Tokyo High Court, Mainali, who returned to Nepal after being released from a Yokohama prison, issued a statement through his lawyers.

"While I was innocent, I lost time during a valuable time in my life," Mainali said. "I hope the verdict will properly acknowledge that the trial 12 years ago that found me guilty was in error."

After the court session ended, Takayuki Aonuma, the deputy prosecutor general at the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office, offered an apology to Mainali.

"There was no recognition by the court that prosecutors hid evidence, and while we believe there were no problems in the course of the investigation and trial, as a result, Mainali was detained as a criminal for a crime he did not commit," Aonuma said. "We offer our apologies."

The Tokyo High Court ordered a retrial in June after DNA testing found that the DNA of body hair found at the crime scene matched the semen found in the dead woman and that the DNA was different from Mainali's.

While prosecutors continued to maintain that Mainali was still the main suspect, further DNA testing conducted after the retrial decision was reached found DNA similar to the body hair under the woman's fingernail. That led prosecutors to finally admit that Mainali was not guilty.

"(Mainali) cannot be considered guilty because we cannot deny the possibility that an individual beside him was the suspect," prosecutors said in court on Oct. 29.

Defense lawyers blasted prosecutors and the Tokyo High Court that found Mainali guilty after the Tokyo District Court initially found him not guilty.

They asked that a third-party body be established to look into how prosecutors went about their initial investigation of Mainali. Defense lawyers said in court that if prosecutors had presented all the evidence they had earlier, Mainali could have been freed years ago.

Meanwhile, Mainali's brother Indra said that Mainali was slowly adapting to life again in Katmandu, occasionally going shopping with his wife, Radha, at nearby shops. Mainali lives with his 79-year-old mother, his wife and two daughters.

Indra said his brother was still reluctant to go outside by himself and always went out with his wife because he might feel insecure.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Govinda Prasad Mainali waves from the balcony of his Katmandu home after the Tokyo High Court session ended on Oct. 29. (Makoto Igarashi)

Govinda Prasad Mainali waves from the balcony of his Katmandu home after the Tokyo High Court session ended on Oct. 29. (Makoto Igarashi)

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  • Govinda Prasad Mainali waves from the balcony of his Katmandu home after the Tokyo High Court session ended on Oct. 29. (Makoto Igarashi)
  • Prosecutors from the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office enter the Tokyo High Court on Oct. 29 for the retrial of Govinda Prasad Mainali. (Yosuke Fukudome)
  • Govinda Prasad Mainali with his wife, Radha, in Katmandu in August. (Provided by the Justice for Govinda Innocence Advocacy Group)

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