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  • YouTube and Facebook on Nathanael Teutli Retamoza, Mexican national, detained in Niigata Prison since November 2010 on suspicion of “domestic abuse, forced entry, and kidnapping his child”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on May 19th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

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    Hi Blog. Got this recently from submitter SL who wrote:

    //////////////////////////////////////////////

    hello debito. we have never met but i wanted to make you aware of a friend of mine who has been imprisoned in japan for the last 5 months without being charged. it’s a bit of a long story, but i met nathan about 4 years ago when he first came to japan from the states to pursue his photography. to make a long story short, he met a japanese woman, got her pregnant, they got married then all hell broke loose. he has been in prison for apparently trying to abduct his child and take her back to the states. until recently i had had no contact with him except a letter in which he asked me to donate money to japan’s relief effort, then i saw this video…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rWJgfnoOdo&feature=related

    i am leaving japan at the end of may, so until then i will try to get his case some more attention. i hope that this message does not fall on deaf ears nor blind eyes. any suggestions are welcome, but this is more to make you aware of his situation.

    all i ask is that you watch the video and perhaps forward it to anyone you think might be able to help him. thanks! sl

    //////////////////////////////////////////////

    Also, according to a Facebook site devoted to his case:

    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002323963541

    //////////////////////////////////////////////

    “Nathan was arrested in Nov,2010 and is being held in a prison in Niigata charged with kidnapping his daughter Yukari. We are a group of his friends in Niigata who are trying to get the word about the injustice Nathan is suffering everyday as he awaits his fate in Niigata Prison. Please look at the Youtube video titled Free Nathan. Also as Nathan has no internet or telephone access if anyone would like to send Nathan any words of encouragement a letters can be sent c/o

    Nathanael Teutle Retamoza
    Niigata Prison 381-4-A Yamafutatsu,
    Konanku,Niigata City
    Niigata, Japan
    950-8721

    Nathan’s next hearing is May 31st ,2011, 09:30-12:00 at the Niigata District Court . In this hearing the closing arguements from both sides will be heard.

    Hearings are open to the public and if anyone is interested in attending there will be transportation provided from Niigata Station to the court house. Let’s show Nathan our support!!

    The courthouse address is
    Niigata District Court Gakko-cho dori 1-1 Chuo-ku, Niigata City
    phone number 025-222-4175
    This is the website for the court house with the address in Japanese and a very limited web site in English.

    http://www.courts.go.jp/niigata/

    For the people who have promised to come to Nathan’s hearing on May 31st Nathan will be so grateful and overwelmed by your kindness. Thank-you in advance.

    It is extremely important to remember that if someone decides to attend Nathan’s hearing on May31st, it goes without saying that you must respect the courtroom and the process because if not the judges have the right to clear the courtroom. We definitely don’t want that. So let’s support Nathan respectfully and quietly. If you have never attended a Japanese hearing or have any questions what so ever I will answer and/or try to find the answer asap. Attending the hearing is an anonymous in that your name is not registered anywhere and no one will ask why you are there. There are many random people in the courtroom; law students, professors, retired individuals who are interested in the law etc. Obviously if you are not Japanese you will stand out but because there is no conversation among the spectators what so ever, there is no worry that you will be singled and questioned. I have been asked about this many times so I hope that it will put some people at ease.”

    //////////////////////////////////////////////

    COMMENT: I know no more about this case than what is on YouTube and Facebook. Those who wish to make enquiries can do so there or at freenathan@ymail.com. FYI. Arudou Debito

    22 Responses to “YouTube and Facebook on Nathanael Teutli Retamoza, Mexican national, detained in Niigata Prison since November 2010 on suspicion of “domestic abuse, forced entry, and kidnapping his child””

    1. HO Says:

      Would someone set the record straight?
      “has been imprisoned in japan for the last 5 months without being charged.” and
      “Nathan’s next hearing is May 31st ,2011, 09:30-12:00 at the Niigata District Court . In this hearing the closing arguements from both sides will be heard.”
      are contradictory. If there is a closing argument, he has been indicted which means he has been charged.

    2. Olaf Says:

      “for the last 5 months without being charged.”
      Is hard to believe
      Fishy story or sloppy reporting?

    3. DW Says:

      It is sloppy reporting, very sloppy many details are missing and plain wrong. He was arrested on November 15, rearrested on December 3 and officially charged on December 24. He plead not guilty in court in late February. Evidently on May 31st are the closing arguments.

      I am quite familiar with the case, enough that two detectives showed up at my in the middle of the night looking for information about him. I have no doubt at all he tried to take his daughter, period. However, his wife withheld access to his daughter for several months & kept demanding more and more money before she would agree to let him see her. He was distraught to put it mildly. There are enough other mitigating circumstances in the case that it is a mess. Does he deserve to go to prison for what he did? No, he has suffered more than enough. Is he being treated unfairly because he is NJ? Without a doubt even one police officer told me as much. Nate is not a bad guy, but I think he was in a bad situation. I feel very badly for him, and hope he is sent home. He should have never been held this long nor treated this way.

    4. Darlene Yamauchi Says:

      “Nathan was arrested in Nov,2010 and is being held in a prison in Niigata charged with kidnapping his daughter Yukari. We are a group of his friends in Niigata who are trying to get the word about the injustice Nathan is suffering everyday as he awaits his fate in Niigata Prison”.
      Please let me know where it is written that he hasn’t been charged, becaue he has.
      The closing arguments are on May 31st at 9 :30AM

    5. Rock Racing Says:

      As much as I want to leap to help in a case of what looks to be a massive miscarriage of justice, I urge people to remember that we are only hearing one side of the story here. We have no idea what really happened in this specific case, we’ve heard nothing of why they divorced, etc.

      Grabbing the pitchforks at the first sign of possible injustice is not in anyone’s best interest. If we expect Japan to extend the ‘benefit of the doubt’ to us, in the interest of fairness we need to extend the benefit of the doubt to them, no?

    6. HO Says:

      Did he hire his own lawyer, or just a kokusen lawyer?
      The case looks grim. He may be found guilty, serve time in jail, be deported upon release and be rejected entry into Japan after deportation.
      What his lawyer has to do is to contact his wife out of court and persuade her to drop the charges. Japanese lawyers are good at such negotiations. She may not want the father of her child a criminal. If his lawyer is a kokusen, he should hire his own lawyer as soon as possible because a kokusen is not paid for work out of court.
      This lawyer is famous in Niigata and has a lot of experience in defending foreigners in criminal trials.
      弁護士 高島 章
      新潟市中央区西堀通7番町1551-2 ホワイトプラザ西堀2階 TEL025-229-3902
      http://d.hatena.ne.jp/Barl-Karth/

      – Thanks HO.

    7. Darlene Yamauchi Says:

      Many thanks for getting the word out about Nathan’s situation. This is an incredible forum so I am personally grateful.
      With regard to Nathan’s case it is very complex. It is further complicated by the fact that Nathan’s hearings have been continually delayed,the excuse offered is that there is no intrepretor available. Regardless of Nathan’s guilt or innocence (he has pleaded guilty to all charges on advice of counsel) he deserves to be given due process. He hasn’t had due process with the excuse that there is no intrepretor. In true Japanese fashion ‘the show must go on and on time’ so now Nathan who moved to the US when he was 9 years old has been forced to tell his story via a Spanish intrepretor because that is all his attorney with the ‘help’ of the court they could provide for him.. The intrepetor is very good but Nathan’s Spanish is not sufficent understand difficult legal terms and at his last hearing a Spanish speaking person accompanied me and he told me that there were many discrepencies with regard to the testimony. You may agree the inabilty to speak Japanese may be considered a handicap in this country. I would hope if someone was deaf or blind arrested there would be allowances made for communication in those cases. I see no difference Nathan’s handicap has not been addressed properly. I appreciate you getting the word out about Nathan’s situation and invite anyone with questions or suggestions to please contact me directly daryama2000@hotmail.com

    8. Rock Racing Says:

      What I find interesting is that two different people apparently with knowledge of the case (DW, Darlene) are mentioning what a ‘complex’ case is, how Nathan was in a ‘bad situation’, how he’s ‘suffered enough’, ‘regardless of his guilt or innocence’.

      Those comments don’t sound like ringing endorsements for Nathan as completely innocent in this whole saga. I can’t shake the idea that we really aren’t hearing the whole story here. That said, perhaps the larger issue here isn’t his guilt or innocent but the lack of his right to a speedy trial.

      Which brings us to the second point – while certainly having to stay behind bars for longer than necessary to get his day in court is a tragedy, wouldn’t that be the preferable alternative if in fact an interpreter wasn’t available? I also find it….unusual that a Spanish-Japanese interpreter was available but an English-Japanese interpreter wasn’t.

    9. Darlene Yamauchi Says:

      Thank-you for your comments.

      I also find it….unusual that a Spanish-Japanese interpreter was available but an English-Japanese interpreter wasn’t.

      I did too

      There is apparently a list of interpretors for each district court. I was shocked to hear first of all that is no interview process and that apparently anyone can sign up. According to Nathan’s attorney it is hit and miss and he missed twice, The first person apparently was so incompetent that his attorney stopped the meeting with Nathan midway because it was obvious the person was not able to communicate with Nathan properly in English. That person was the only person available on the Niigata list. So he moved to Gumna the neighboring ken and that person decided a few days before Nathan’s first hearing that she couldn’t come all the way to Niigata in the winter and snow by the way that was the only person available in Gumna so Mr. Ohashi went back to the court. The court came back and said all they could find was a current Spanish-Japanese intrepretor. Basically Nathan’s choice was that or his trial will be pushed back. I have had many discussions with his attorney but as he says intrpretation is a huge problem and very well known in the legal community.

      Nathan’s case is extremely complicated
      It is

      I believe Nathan made a big mistake there had to have been a better way but also believe he felt he had no choice. He is guilty of kidnapping his own daughter because it is a crime in Japan he took his daughter out of the house and his wife was not there at the time and the mother-in-law did not agree for him to take her. Apparently there are Japanese men in prison for this crime. That is the law and we must be abide by the law but I do not believe he should be in prison for this crime.
      The following things were discussed in Nathan’s hearings:
      There were no legal restrictions on Nathan with regard to seeing his daughter ie. restaining orders etc. he tried to reason with his wife for many months to visit his daughter, he gave brought her money she had his ATM card etc. prior to moving out of the in-laws house he worked from home and was Yukari’s main caregiver. He believed his wife Yuki Ito may have suffered from post partum depression that perhaps escalated into mental health problems and that she needed help. On a trip last year to the US when asked by his parents she agreed to get some help and counselling but it is a well known fact that mental illness is not dealt with in the same manner in Japan as other countries. In any case that never happened. Nathan himself says that he was naive to think that she get help.

      There are so many layers to this case for example on the day of this incident Nathan rang the doorbell at the Ito’s house, spoke into the interphone and the the mother-in-law (now former) opened the door for Nathan ,and he entered the entrance of the house. Whether or not that is forced entry or not well it is up to the judge to decide, it was his registered domicle as on all of his identifcation. The mother-in-law says that she didn’t want Nathan in the house and it is her house. She says she didn’t know it was Nathan and that the interphone was broken. In his trial she didn’t say so but the essence was that knew it was him she wouldn’t of opened the door. She could hear someone speaking outside but she could not hear what they were saying. The judges will rule on that as well. The judges will weigh all the testimony and decide. The mother-in -law lost her footing in the genkan when Nathan entered the house and hit her head. Is that assault I don’t know. Nathan has apologised and offered to pay for any medical bills, pain and suffering etc. Also these 2 other than the kidnapping charge these were broght later when they decided that they would let Nathan go home in the the same way Christopher Savoie was shipped off. His wife got an attorney and all of sudden there were medical receipts etc.. And that is where we are today
      Again the 3 judges on Nathan’s case will decide. I reckon the court of public opinion will not do much to help him.

      I believe Nathan has made a mistake but for him and many other parents in the same situation, aching to see their children I don’t know that I might not of done the same thing. Does he belong in prison as he is now definitely NOT. I will stand by him. I didn’t really know him before he was arrested but I see 3 to 4 times a week in the prison so I have had a chance to get to know him. He is a wonderful loving father who worries every moment about his daughter.

      … perhaps the larger issue here isn’t his guilt or innocent but the lack of his right to a speedy trial.

      Nathan should be treated fairly and in the same manner as every other person accused that’s all really nothing more and certainly nothing less.

      His next hearing is on May 31st at 9:30AM it is open to the public.

    10. Niigata Says:

      We are not trying to prove his innocence at this point. We have to get him out of prison. That is our focus and that is what we are pushing for. He is not well and the longer this goes on the worse things get for him.

      If the interpreter wasn’t available, he has to sit in prison till one is. That is not an option. Nathan has to get out of there ASAP.

      The case is very complex and and it is impossible to understand without a very good grasp of how the Japanese legal system works. It is not nearly the same as to what we are used to in the West.

      Nathan will hopefully one day get to tell his story and we can work from there to get his daughter back and prove his innocence. Right now we must get him out of prison.

      Anybody who knew Nathan and his wife knows that this whole thing is just ridiculous, but the harder we push to argue Nathan’s innocence, the harder the prosecution and his wife push back with more complication keeping Nathan behind bars making him suffer. It’s not fair, but we have to maintain our objective of getting him out of there.

      Thank all of you for your time.

    11. HO Says:

      Does anyone have the follow-up to this story?

    12. legalchiba Says:

      ‘Nathan’s Sentencing July 5th at 2pm’

      https://www.facebook.com/notes/freenathanael-teutle-retamoza/nathans-sentencing-july-5th-at-2pm/113421155412016

      As expected [ex wife] Yuki Ito did not appear in court today. The judge read her written statement. In her statement she spoke about herself for almost 4 pages with rants such as she is sure if Nathan is free than he will try to kill her or her family. Her family is scared of foreigners, Nathan tells people he will change but he will always be a deadbeat Dad. She said that although his brother had come to Japan and testified for Nathan the reality is that Nathan and his brother do not have a relationship and in her opinion the Teutle family will do nothing to help Nathan, which causes her worry because she feels unsafe. She would like the court to protect her from Nathan furthermore she hopes that Yukari never sees Nathan and in the the future she will do everything she can to protect Yukari from Nathan, everything horrible in her life has happened and as a result of his family etc.etc.etc. No one was expecting a love letter and I don’t want to give her any more air time what so ever but since she wasn’t there to read the letter I thought it might be appropriate to provide everyone with a picture to go with the story Also it is important to remember here that she is not the victim in legal sense for these crimes as Yukari’s mother she is only considered a representative for her daughter the person who was kidnapped.

      It continues to amaze me the amount of power Yuki Ito has with regard to this criminal (not civil case). Her attorney sits beside the prosecution feeding him questions and quite often answers as well!!

      The closing arguments were then heard from both sides. The prosecution spent a great deal of time saying how Nathan changed his story from one thing to another therefore his testimony was unbelievable. Some truth there since he didn’t understand questions lost in translation. They dwelled on his wife’s allegations that he was a deadbeat father , the unsubstantiated allegations of domestic violance and that Kumiko Ito’s testimony is more believable than Nathan’s. The prosecution asked the judge to come back with a 2 year prison sentence.

      The defence followed and I must say Mr. Ohashi did a very good job of bringing things back to point. With regard to the forced entry charge he said that although Nathan had on a knit hat he did nothing to conceal his identity, he announced himself at the door, his mother-in-law opened the door and knew it was Nathan, he did not say he was a delivery person and furthermore at that time his Japanese was so poor that he wouldn’t of been able to say he was a delivery person convincingly in Japanese. Mr. Ohashi contended that the mother-in-law let him in the house when he rang the bell and more importantly he was registered to live there as written on his alien registration card. Mr. Ohashi asked Nathan be found innocent of both the assault and forced entry charges. With regard to the kidnapping charges he asked that Nathan receive a suspended sentence.

      Lastly Nathan was able to speak on his own behalf. He apologised to his wife, her family and his daughter for all the trouble that this has caused everyone. He said that he came to Japan because he liked Japan and he stayed because he wanted to make a life for he and his family. He is so sorry that this has happened. He would like to get back to work as soon as possible and would like to support Yukari financially for as long as necessary.

      The opinion around the courtroom today among people more knowledgable than me (for sure) is that a request of a 2 year prison term as opposed to 10 years gives the Judges an opporuntity to suspend Nathan’s sentence. Requesting anymore prison time than that would make it difficult for the judges to come back with a suspended sentence. So the hope is that he will get a suspended sentence. A suspended sentence ruling would mean that Nathan would released to Immigration transported to Tokyo and would be deported to Mexico. The Mexican police with the co-operation of the Mexican Embassy in Tokyo have provided Nathan with documents showing he has no criminal record in Mexico, therefore when he enters Mexico he will enter as a free person. Nathan’s sentencing is on July 5th at 2pm. I think things went well and I am cautiously hopeful.

      Nathan felt everyone’s support today!! Both near and far THANK-YOU!!!
      ENDS

    13. Darlene Yamauchi Says:

      Unfortunately Nathan is not out of the woods yet. Even if (hopefully) his sentence is suspended he will be deported to Mexico as his visa expired while he was in custody. So onto to another wonderfully run Japanese bureaucracy!! I have started to investigate what steps can be taken to help move that process along in the event Nathan doesn’t end up with a prison sentence. Any advice would be very appreciated!!
      The Mexican Embassy has promised to “monitor the situation” but I believe they might perform better if they are continually ‘reminded’ of their promise particularly by other Mexican nationals. He has spent almost 7 months in prison for for what in his mind was trying to see his daughter on his birthday!!

      Please take a look at the facebook page put together by his friends in Japan to try to get the information out about Nathan’s unfortunate situation

      The facebook page is called:

      FreeNathanael Teutle Retamoza

    14. Curious Says:

      You mention, “He has spent almost 7 months in prison for what in his mind was trying to see his daughter on his birthday!” My question is, was he just trying to see his daughter, or was he trying to remove her from the home?

    15. Darlene Yamauchi Says:

      I believe that Nathan felt he had no choice in what he did. He believes it was wrong but On the day of this incident he tried to repeatedly to make an arrangement or appointment to see his daughter. He was still married to Yuki Ito and there were no legal restrictions on visits, in fact Nathan’s registered domocile was the house that Yuki and Yukari lived in. The phone was hung up initially and eventually the wife wouldn’t answer the phone. He went to the house he says with the intention of seening his daughter but the result was he took her He took his daughter to his house for the night. I don’t know if he planned to ‘kidnap’ her to America but he is not stupid, and he at least knows you need a passport to leave the country and he didn’t have on for Yukari. He phoned his wife, when she finally came home from whereever she was and she where they were. I reckon she couldn’t of been that concerned because the police didn’t arrest Nathan until 30 hours later on Nov. 15th.
      I believe that if he was permitted visitation with his daughter this incident would never would of happened. He tried unsuccessfully for more than 3 months prior to this to see Yukari. AND really he just wanted to see his daughter because he was and IS constantly worried about her welfare. Yukari is in the care of a mentally unstable parent Yuki Ito. Unfortunately Japanese society does not recognise mental illness in such a manner that someone like Yuki Ito who is in great need of counselling might be able to receive help.

    16. Rock Racing Says:

      If he took her out of the house, what his ‘intentions’ might have been are irrelevant. While it sounds like a very sad case, in point of fact I don’t think he has a legal leg to stand on. Even in the US or UK, even a parent with right of custody can and will be charged with kidnapping if they take away, detain, or otherwise conceal the child without cause.

    17. Franchesca Miyara Says:

      Rock Racing Says:
      June 6th, 2011 at 5:03 pm

      If he took her out of the house, what his ‘intentions’ might have been are irrelevant. While it sounds like a very sad case, in point of fact I don’t think he has a legal leg to stand on. Even in the US or UK, even a parent with right of custody can and will be charged with kidnapping if they take away, detain, or otherwise conceal the child without cause.

      That is one awfully wrong statement there, Rock.

      My son was kidnapped at the age of 1 year and 6 months and the Japanese police did nothing to help other than mock me and laugh about my suffering, that was on July 20th of 2006 in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki-ken.
      Then again, on May 10th of 2011, my current husband who is also a japanese national, kidnapped my 2 year old daughter while I was working on a part time job and again after calling the police, the told me that since I’m married to this man, there is NOTHING they can do, they actually say: “We won’t do anything, we won’t pursue him as he is the father, not a stranger”

      So pleaseeeee. the only kidnappers that get persecuted and arrested in Japan are the foreigners. Japanese kidnappers do NOT get arrested. Get your facts straight!

    18. Free Nathan Says:

      Franchesca please contact http://bachome.org/wordpress/ and share your story.

    19. OneTrueVoice Says:

      Franchesca, which part of the statement you’re complaining about is ‘wrong’?

    20. debito Says:

      http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110706p2g00m0dm007000c.html

      “Mexican man convicted of abducting separated daughter in Niigata

      NIIGATA (Kyodo) — A Mexican man was found guilty and given a suspended jail term Tuesday for forcibly taking his daughter from his separated Japanese wife last November by breaking into her home in Niigata on the Sea of Japan and injuring her mother who tried to prevent him.

      The Niigata District Court sentenced Nathanael Teutle Retamoza, 33, to two years in prison, suspended for four years, for his behavior aimed at taking the 1-year-old girl to the United States, at a time when the Japanese government is preparing for legislation to help settle international child custody disputes.

      The ruling said it was “selfish” for Retamoza to act on his urge to see his daughter, from whom he had been separated for two months, without heeding the sentiment of his former wife and her relatives.

      It also noted that he prepared for the abduction well in advance as he booked U.S.-bound air tickets for himself and his daughter beforehand.

      However, the court said the prison sentence is suspended as the man regretted inflicting on his former mother-in-law injuries that required two weeks of treatment and received punishments in the forms of nearly eight months of detention and abandonment of his daughter’s custody.

      According to Retamoza’s lawyer, the couple divorced after the incident and the mother was awarded sole custody of the daughter. Also after the incident, the court served a restraining order on him following the wife’s claim of abuse.

      In a similar case, an American man was arrested in September 2009 in Fukuoka Prefecture on suspicion of abducting his son and daughter in a bid to reclaim them, as his ex-wife had taken them from the United States to Japan.

      But prosecutors did not file criminal charges against Christopher Savoie.

      To deal with cross-border parental abduction cases, Japan decided in May to join the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which sets procedures for settling international child custody disputes.

      (Mainichi Japan) July 6, 2011″

    21. Norik Says:

      “According to Retamoza’s lawyer, the couple divorced after the incident and the mother was awarded sole custody of the daughter. Also after the incident, the court served a restraining order on him following the wife’s claim of abuse.”
      So, they weren’t divorced before he tried to see his daughter? In that case,isn’t preventing him from meeting his daughter illegal?Especially when the wife hadn’t filed a restraining order at that time.
      What kind of injuries were inflicted on the old lady? Did the man hit her/pushed her directly with the clear intent to harm her, or the injuries were self-inflicted by accident-like slipping, losing balance,etc?

    22. Mexican Man Convicted Over Attempted Abduction of Daughter | Japan Probe Says:

      [...] months ago, sites such as Debito.org and Left Behind Parents Japan had posted messages supporting Retamoza’s cause and demanding [...]

      – Once again, we can rely on Japan Probe to use its anti-Debito.org bent to mislead its audience. All Debito.org said was, “I know no more about this case than what is on YouTube and Facebook. Those who wish to make enquiries can do so there or at freenathan AT ymail.com. FYI.” The fact that others commented on it is not meant to say that Debito.org supports it. It was an FYI on a case that matters. It still matters, given the verdict.

      (PS. I have no idea why JP’s trackback has come through now, six months later.)

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