UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
Hi Blog. I heard word from Plaintiff Valentine last week that the latest hearing on his lawsuit against the Japanese police (which has lasted four years now) for police brutality will be happening next Tuesday. Do attend if you can. Here’s why:
You may not remember, but I wrote about the Valentine Case for the Japan Times:
“ABUSE, RACISM, LOST EVIDENCE DENY JUSTICE IN VALENTINE CASE: Nigerian’s ordeal shows that different standards apply for foreigners in court” (Japan Times Zeit Gist August 14, 2007).
where I did a bit of sleuthing and described how the police’s claim that Nigerian citizen Valentine smashed his knee on a sign while running from them is pretty much impossible. Then their denying him medical treatment during interrogation has left him crippled for life. This is one major case of how a man (who has not been convicted to this day of any crime) can be abused due to the lack of accountability in the police system of criminal investigation, and have it covered up by negligent Japanese courts. The outcome of this case will speak volumes.
More background from his supporters group follows. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
WHO MAY BE THE NEXT VICTIM? Mr. Valentine who was beaten up with a broken knee by the uncovered police officers 4 years ago, is calling on the foreign community living in Japan to attend his next high court trial on 6th. tuesday 2009. By 2:30pm. Venue: Tokyo High court. Kasumigaseki. 8th floor. Room 808.
Why? This Case is very important to attend is because some thing strange is going on with this case. On 6th. tuesday, a DNA professor. Prof Ishiyama. is coming to give his expert opinion about the cause of the broken knee. on behalf of the Tokyo Govt.
We need Justice to be done. Your presence is highly needed. This matter has being going on for 4 years now.
1st appeal hearing (July 17th,2007) A statement of reasons for appeal. Requests the court to provide order to submit a document(s) ( the Shinjuku ward police would have some inhouse documents that recorded how his injury was). Also requested a record(s) of monitoring video camera at the scene at Shinjuku.
2nd appeal hearing(Sep.25th,2007） Metropolitan Government (the Police) says these two evidences that he requested have never existed. Conversely, they asked the appellant to submit a ground(s) why he asks so. Also asked to order to let a new doctor(s) give an expert opinion.（This was to withdraw by the appellant himself after that and re-submit a doctor’s expert opinion）.
3rd appeal hearing(Nov.20th,2007) The court requests more detailed statement of eyewitness and the appellant to be prepared again. Also the court asked the appellant to appeal against his original doctor’s expert opinion（already submitted）
4th appeal hearing(Feb.12th, 2008) Every orders to submit documents sorted out. Reply of Metropolitan Gov.:1）Detention name list->exist, but no need to submit 2) A report(s) from a chief investigator to a chief of detention-> no exist 3) a detentions’ medical report->exist, but no need to submit. For 3), the chief judge urged the Metropolitan Gov. to submit “with painting in black at the non related ”, and Gov. under examination.
5th appeal hearing(May.22nd, 2008)The court didn’t make any approval or decision for testimony of new eyewitness & 2nd doctor. A detention name list and a detentions’ medical report have submitted before this time. The appellant pursuited to release internal regulations to the court, that concerning a report(s) when the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department arrested him. However, Metropolitan Gov. refused it and requested “in-camera” proceeding*1).
*1)”In-Camera” proceeding:”It is not submitted to court where opens to the public, and no chance to read it is given even to the person concerned, only the judge receives the presentation of the document. “
6th appeal hearing(Jul.8th, 2008)The chief justice instruct to conclude the appeal. The most point is the reason of his injury whether it is advantageous accident or others disadvantageous accident. This time an inhouse documents has submitted by the Shinjuku police station that might concern about it. The court wait for counterarguement from Tokyo gov. side (if any), then the chief justice to judge.
7th appeal hearing(Oct.28th, 2008)At last hearing, Mr.Tsuzuki instructed to conclude new proofs and new states during last 6 hearings, and the appallant submitted concerned documents, then Tokyo Gov. side submitted counterarguements following after that. This time the court confirmed these documents again, and also no other request has confirmed. Also the court confirmed no other documents to be submitted, and a witness and a docter witness accepted after consultation at the backyard of the court. Two witness to be stand at next hearing.
8th appeal hearing(Jan.27th, 2009)From appalent side, a witness who stayed close at scene of the accident and, a doctor who declare the cause of his fracture and also explained 10 day detention affection, stood for the court.
9th appeal hearing(Apr.21st, 2009)Most of people believed that conclusion of the hearings to be announced. However, Tokyo Gov. side submit a “Ishiyama Opinion” more than after one week of the closing date. Appallent side pursuit not to accept it because it is clealy expired, however the chief justice Mr Tsuzuki accepted it (as document No. Otsu-18) by the reason he want to compete the expert opinions, and also he called Prof.Ishiyama to the witness stand.
10th appeal hearing(Jul.21st, 2009)The plaintiff side submit Ishiyama’s second opinion and pre-documents, and the chief justice decided to call Prof.Ishiyama as a witness. FYI: Mr.Ikuo ISHIYAMA, a honorary professor to the Teikyo University, is a famous expert opinion. The 6th professor to a legal medicine class of the Tokyo University. He is a suceeder of Professor Furuhata who generate a lot of false charge by his attempt judge. Mr.Ishiyama also close to Police side.
Copyright (c) Valentine Trial Support Group/バレンタイン裁判支援会 All Rights Reserved.
Again, background on the case at https://www.debito.org/japantimes081407.html
2 comments on “Valentine Court Case re police brutality next hearing Tues Oct 6 2:30PM, Tokyo High Court Kasumigaseki”
Back in my university days, the local Amnesty International group used to write letters to officials in South Africa to ask them to release prisoners of conscience. I wonder if a letter wrtiting campaign would be helpful in a case like this, too.
This BBC piece on forced confessions might be of interest:
By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Tokyo
Hiroshi Yanagihara cannot forget the day he was forced to confess to a crime he did not commit.
A taxi driver, he had been detained on suspicion of attempted rape.
The police interrogation was so relentless, he says, that it brought him to the brink of suicide.
“When I first started saying I was innocent the intimidation and the pressure on me grew stronger,” he said.
“They kept saying, ‘Your family is giving up on you, they’re very disappointed in you.’ They kept repeating over and over.
Mr Yanagihara spent two years in jail for a crime he was later cleared of
“I got to the stage of there’s really nothing I can do about this. Anything I say they’re not going to listen to, there’s nothing I can do. I just said yes, one word yes. That led them to arrest me.”
That confession was enough to see Hiroshi Yanagihara convicted and spend more than two years behind bars, even though a footprint at the scene did not match his shoe size.
He was only cleared after he was released, when another man was found guilty of the crime.
His is one of several high-profile cases of forced confessions in Japan.
‘King of evidence’
Amnesty International has now called on Japan’s new government to immediately implement reforms of the police interrogation system to avoid such miscarriages of justice.
Suspects can be held for up to 23 days before they are charged in what the campaign group says is a brutal system that has no place in modern Japan.
The conviction rate is more than 99%, often based on confessions. Amnesty International says some are extracted from suspects under duress.
In its manifesto the Democratic Party, which won a general election in August, pledged to introduce full videotaping of interrogations.
Japan’s courts have a conviction rate of more than 99% – although it cannot be compared directly to other countries because there is no plea bargaining.
At the same time a lot of people would say if you didn’t do it why did you say you did?
Prosecutors usually proceed with a case only if they are sure they will win and a confession has been called the king of evidence.
“The detainee has absolutely no access to his defence lawyers, has no idea how long the interrogation session would go,” said Rajiv Narayan of Amnesty International.
“And this also involves many, many hours of repeated questions and sometimes sleep deprivation, and where the detainee is given the impression he would only be released once he confesses.
“In that kind of system, what’s of great concern is the confessions extracted could even be used to sentence a person to death.”
Amnesty International says it is impossible to know how many miscarriages of justice there have been.
A British man, who did not want to be named, told the BBC about his experience of police detention in Japan.
“The first thing I was told, and this was by the officers, was you’re going to hell with your eyes open,” he said.
The man had been caught trying to smuggle two kilograms of cannabis into Japan.
He admits his guilt, but claims he was interrogated for up to 16 hours a day for weeks on end as officers tried to get him to confess to further crimes.
He says he was handcuffed, tied with a rope to his chair and not allowed to use the toilet.
Every day he was presented with papers in Japanese, which he did not understand, and told to sign them.
Each time he refused, he says, things got worse.
“He says to me, ‘Just co-operate and you’ll find things will be… just co-operate with him’,” the man said.
“He wanted me to agree that I’d brought marijuana to Japan before, I’m in a gang. They started shouting at me. They tried to force me to sign the papers. They put one inmate in my cell and he started to do all the kung fu like he was going to attack me.”
The police and the Ministry of Justice were unable to respond to these particular allegations because the charity representing the prisoner wants to maintain his anonymity with a view to future compensation.
However, they were prepared to discuss the case of Hiroshi Yanagihara, wrongly convicted of attempted rape.
“Regarding this case the prosecutor’s office investigated the problems in August 2007 to prevent it happening again,” said Ministry of Justice spokesman Yoshio Nakamura.
“They released the report. And we believe the report will be used in order to prevent it from happening again.”
Trial by jury has just been introduced in Japan, and campaigners hope it will cast light on the justice system.
But Amnesty International says this is not enough. They are calling on Japan’s new government to immediately fulfil an election pledge to videotape interrogations to stop abuses in police detention.
There is no commitment to reduce the length of time suspects can be held by police.
“Wrongful convictions should not happen, and I hope they won’t in the future,” said Keiko Chiba, the new minister of justice.
“People in the justice system and politicians knew there was a problem and were concerned.
“But at the same time a lot of people would say if you didn’t do it why did you say you did? And they thought there’s no way the investigators would do such a thing. That’s why it didn’t come to changing it as much as it should have done.”