Zanis Klepeckis
Latvian Acquitted of Smuggling Drugs

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Lay-judge trial of Latvian man facing drug charges to last lengthy 2 months


A lay-judge trial of a Latvian man accused of smuggling illegal stimulants into Japan will last almost two months -- an unusually long time -- as the man requires an interpreter and is contesting the charges on all fronts.

The 32-year-old man, Zanis Klepeckis, is accused of collaborating with an unknown person in October 2010 to have a statue containing around 10 kilograms of illegal stimulants sent from South Africa to him in Yokohama via Narita Airport.

The defense is prepared to contest the defendant's collaboration and intention to receive the stimulants, his knowledge of the stimulants being hidden in the statue, as well as the accuracy of his interpreters during police questioning and whether there was coercion or not. For this reason, as many as 20 people including police officers, prosecutors and interpreters are expected to be questioned in the trial.

A prosecutor has criticized the length of the trial, saying, "The burden on the lay judges (who are ordinary citizens) is too great."

In a previous case, a lay-judge trial for an arson attack at an Osaka pachinko parlor lasted 60 days.

(Mainichi Japan) December 12, 2011


Lay judge trial acquits Latvian in drug smuggling case

March 7, 2012


A Latvian man accused of smuggling drugs into Japan from South Africa was acquitted in a lay judge trial at the Tokyo District Court on March 12.

Zanis Klepeckis, 32, was indicted in October 2010 on suspicion of conspiring with unknown accomplices to have a statue filled with 10 kilograms of an unnamed stimulant shipped from South Africa to a room under his name at a Yokohama hotel. He had consistently denied any involvement since his arrest. If found guilty Klepeckis would have faced a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison and an 8 million yen fine.

The trial focused on whether Klepeckis knew that there were drugs in the statue and whether he was in fact part of a smuggling conspiracy. The judgment pointed out that Klepeckis had not instructed the hotel on what to do if a package arrived for him while he was out, stating that "this is not at all consistent with the attitude of someone there to pick up a delivery" and declaring that Klepeckis was not aware of the statue's contents.

Klepeckis's attorney argued from the beginning of the trial -- which lasted one and a half months -- that the defendant was not guilty on all counts, and called 14 witnesses in support of Klepeckis's case. Much of the witnesses' testimony had to go through an interpreter, and "sorting everything out in my head was pretty difficult," one lay judge told reporters after the verdict.

Klepeckis's case marks the 16th time -- 7th in a stimulant case -- a lay judge panel has handed down a verdict of not guilty on all counts of an indictment.

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覚醒剤密輸:ラトビア男性、2審も無罪に 東京高裁
毎日新聞 20120828日 1204分(最終更新 0828日 1251分)
Retried in Absentia

 覚醒剤約10キロを隠した石像を南アフリカから航空貨物で受け取ろうとしたとして、覚せい剤取締法違反(営利目的輸入)罪などに問われたラトビア国籍の無職、ザニス・クレペキス被告(32)の控訴審判決で、東京高裁は28日、裁判員裁判で無罪とした東京地裁判決(3月)を支持し、検察側の控訴を棄却した。小西秀宣裁判長は「被告が貨物内に覚醒剤が隠されていることまで認識していたとは推認できない。1審は正当」と述べた。
 被告は別人物からの依頼で10年10月に入国し、横浜市のホテルで石像を受け取る役だったとして起訴された。1審判決は、被告がホテルで石像の到着を待とうとする行動をとっていないことや、尾行中の税関職員に「なぜ後をつけるのか」と話しかけた点などを重視し、「受け取り役の行動として不自然」として無罪とした。
 被告は1審判決時には不法滞在状態で、出入国管理法の手続きで国外退去となった。検察側は地裁や高裁に被告の再勾留を申し立てたが退けられていた。