High court upholds acquittal of deported Briton over marijuana

The Tokyo High Court on Tuesday upheld the acquittal of a Briton who was deported after a lower court found him not guilty of marijuana smuggling from South Africa to Japan in August last year. The high court dismissed the appeal from public prosecutors of the Chiba District Court acquittal in May of the 55-year-old man, who was deported in June to South Africa, the place of his domicile.

He was arrested Aug 13, 2007, on suspicion of bringing from South Africa a suitcase containing about 9.7 kilograms of marijuana on arrival at Narita airport. The district court acquitted the man of the charges saying there remains ‘‘reasonable doubt’’ that the defendant intentionally brought the suitcase into Japan. After the district court acquittal, he was put in a detention center for illegal immigrants.

Prosecutors filed the appeal and asked for a court order to allow them to continue detaining him to prevent him from being deported. But the Tokyo High Court turned down the prosecutors’ request, paving the way for immigration authorities to deport him.


British man cleared of cannabis smuggling

The Chiba District Court on Thursday acquitted a 54-year-old British man of smuggling cannabis from South Africa to Japan, saying there was reasonable doubt that he deliberately brought it into Japan. The man was arrested Aug 13, 2007, for carrying a suitcase containing about 9.7 kilograms of cannabis at Narita airport, after arriving from South Africa via Hong Kong. He has consistently pleaded not guilty.

An acquaintance of the man in South Africa allegedly escorted the defendant to the airport in South Africa and carried the suitcase to the baggage check-in counter, it said. In handing down the ruling, Judge Hiroyuki Sakuta said, ‘‘Cannabis was only wrapped in clothing. If the defendant had the intention of bringing cannabis into Japan, he would have concealed it more carefully. The defendant’s leg is impaired and there is no evidence that he carried the suitcase by himself.’’