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Russian’s conviction for handgun possession thrown out
JAPAN TIMES/KYODO, MAR 7, 2017, courtesy of JDG
SAPPORO – Following new testimony from a former police inspector about a Russian man who was caught in an illegal police sting operation, a court Tuesday overturned his 1998 conviction for handgun possession.
The Sapporo District Court acquitted former seaman Andrei Novosyolov, 47, who served two years in prison, but did not rule on the legality of the police operation.
Novosyolov was arrested in November 1997 at the port of Otaru in western Hokkaido for possessing a handgun and was found guilty of violating the firearms control law by the district court in August 1998. He had been seeking a retrial, claiming he was the victim of an illegal operation by the Hokkaido police.
Novosyolov’s defense counsel filed for a retrial in September 2013 following new testimony from a former police inspector stating the person who approached Novosyolov about exchanging a used car for a handgun was in fact working for police investigators.
The defense council claimed that Novosyolov was the victim of an “illegal sting operation” by the police and asked the court to make a “bold judgment” on the illegality of the operation in the retrial. Prosecutors had also sought Novosyolov’s acquittal.
The district court approved holding a retrial in March last year, recognizing that the sting operation in Novosyolov’s case was illegal, prompting prosecutors to file an immediate appeal with the Sapporo High Court.
The high court in October rejected the prosecutors’ appeal and called for the retrial to be held on the grounds that police officials at the time made false statements in investigative documents, but it did not rule on the legality of the police operation.
Yoshiaki Inaba, the 63-year-old former police inspector who worked in the Hokkaido police’s firearms control division at the time of his arrest, was arrested in 2002 on suspicion of stimulant drug use, and admitted during his trial that the Hokkaido police had engaged in a sting operation.
“It was a sting operation conducted to aid the police,” Inaba said in a recent interview. “He must have gone through a lot of hardships in prison in a foreign country. I want to apologize to him.”
“His acquittal would lift a great weight from my shoulders,” Inaba added.
At the time of Novosyolov’s arrest, police officers had been assigned a quota to confiscate illegal guns following a series of sniper shootings targeting key figures in Japan.
Police officers instructed an informant to encourage foreigners to bring firearms to Japan as part of efforts to meet the quota. Novosyolov was arrested in the process of exchanging the handgun.
“Me and the organization jumped to grab the opportunity to get the credit,” Inaba said, recalling Novosyolov’s arrest. “I still remember his frightened face at the arrest scene.”
“(My superiors) must have acknowledged that it was an illegal operation. I thought this method was wrong but couldn’t fight back,” Inaba said. “We did many other dirty things and I thought we would have to pay for them someday,” he added.
Inaba said he testified about the police’s sting operation out of his desire to reveal the truth.
Hokkaido police officials declined to comment on the legality of its investigatory method concerning the case. ENDS
As submitter JDG put it:
JDG: It’s NOT the fact that this guy was framed in an illegal entrapment by police and wrongly served 2 years.
No, what is BLOWING MY MIND is that the J-cops;
1. Set quotas for gun related arrests…in ‘safety Japan’, because they claim…
2. There were a series of high profile incidents of sniping at ‘key’ figures! (I never saw ANYTHING about that in the news!). And therefore, to meet the quota…
3. J-police instructed informants to tell NJ to bring guns into Japan, so they could be arrested! Because…
4. Y’know, ‘quotas’ and stuff…err…
Oh, and yeah, let’s not forget;
5. Wrongly imprisoned NJ gets released, BUT why are all these corrupt cops not being prosecuted? Where is the government mandated review of the NPA to stop a BS quota system that engenders abuse?
Let me add a couple of things:
1) As the article alludes, entrapment is illegal in Japan. Japanese police are not allowed to catch criminals by engaging in criminal activity themselves. Which is why Japanese doing illegal things overseas act rather indignant (as opposed to penitent) when being caught by, for example, American sting operations. That’s why this case should have been thrown out of court, at least in Japanese jurisprudence — the ill-gotten evidence was inadmissible. And doubly so when the cops are pressuring themselves to nail NJ just to fulfill a “quota”. Triply so when the cop who trapped him and later came clean, Inaba Yoshiaki, was himself a druggie. (Hokkaido cops are actually pretty famous for being bent, see here and here; and as I discovered for myself here and here.)
2) One detail not properly outlined was the timeline. Novosyolov was arrested in 1997 — nearly twenty years ago — and convicted in 1998. He served two years in prison. Yet druggie cop Inaba comes clean in sometime around 2013 and… it takes three more years to spring Novosyolov? Since he was surely not allowed to leave Japan, where was he for the nearly twenty years? Languishing in a Gaijin Tank between the ages of 28 and 47? Bang went the best twenty years of his young life.
And something closer to my heart:
3) This took place in Otaru, my old stomping ground, and the site of the “Japanese Only” racist bathhouses that resulted in the landmark Otaru Onsens Case. Otaru cops are also rather famous for their arrogance, conducting spot Gaijin Card checks just to alleviate their own boredom (my first one happened there in 1987, shortly after I first arrived), so to me this is all within character.
Congrats to Novosyolov for getting sprung. But I doubt this will result in any reforms to the system that illegally entraps NJ for sport. Dr. Debito Arudou
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