Andrei Novosyolov
Arrested 1997
Served 2 years.
Retrial Granted: 2016!

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Court grants retrial to Russian convicted in 'illegal' sting

March 04, 2016
March 4, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)

By JUN HASEGAWA/ Staff Writer

SAPPORO--The Sapporo District Court here on March 3 granted a retrial to a Russian man who served two years in prison for possessing a handgun in Hokkaido, harshly criticizing the sting operation that led to his arrest in 1997.

Andrei Novosyolov, 46, who currently lives in Russia, won the right to a retrial.

“The Hokkaido prefectural police conducted an illegal sting operation," said Presiding Judge Koji Saeki. "The man should be acquitted.”

In a statement, Novosyolov said, “I am grateful for the fact that a Japanese court finally listened to my assertion and accepted it. But I also lament that it took so many years to reach this day.”

While Novosyolov was working as a seaman in 1997, he attempted to trade a handgun, which had belonged to his dead father, and 16 bullets to a used car dealer in Otaru, western Hokkaido, for a car. At that time, he was arrested by police.

Later, he was sentenced to two years in prison.

In 2013, Novosyolov sought a retrial by submitting new evidence, including the testimony of a former police inspector in charge of his case, who admitted, “There was an illegal sting operation.”

According to the Sapporo District Court’s March 3 decision, the used car dealer was a police collaborator. The former police inspector routinely told the dealer, “Make (someone) bring his handgun to you.”

In response to the request, the dealer told Novosyolov, “If you bring a handgun to Japan, I will exchange it for a used car you want.”

“(Through the collaborator) police encouraged the man who had had no connections to gun-related crimes to commit a crime. The sting operation was unnecessary. In addition, the sting operation brought a handgun into Japan and endangered the lives of the people,” the decision said.

The decision also placed importance on the fact that police tried to cover up the sting operation. For example, police investigators produced false investigatory documents after arresting the Russian man. When the illegality of the sting operation was raised in his trial, police investigators made false statements.

“Police defeated the purpose of criminal trials and trampled on Novosyolov’s right to receive a fair trial,” the court decision said.

Japan court grants retrial for Russian convicted over gun possession

SAPPORO (Kyodo) -- The Sapporo District Court decided Thursday to grant a retrial to a Russian man who was sentenced to two years in prison for possessing a handgun in 1997, acknowledging he was convicted because of an "illegal sting operation" by local police.

    Presiding Judge Koji Saeki granted the retrial to 46-year-old former seamen Andrei Novosyolov, saying, "A collaborator in police investigations initiated a deal to exchange a handgun with a valuable secondhand car," thereby prompting the Russian man to bring in the gun.

    Novosyolov was arrested for violation of the firearms control law and sentenced by the same court in August 1998. His sentence was finalized after no appeal was made, and he served the prison term.

    The court said the authorities, who are responsible for preventing crimes, ended up causing another crime. On top of that, the Hokkaido prefectural police hid the truth about the sting operation, when the legality of such an operation was fought in court later, thus preventing the accused from receiving a fair trial, according to the court.

    "The evidence obtained from the sting operation is inadmissible. The man should be found not guilty," Saeki said.

    A request for retrial was made in September 2013 following new testimony by a former inspector, who admitted there was an undercover investigation.

    When standing at the Russian man's trial as a witness for the prosecutors, the former inspector denied there was an undercover probe. But when the former inspector himself was later arrested for alleged use of illegal drugs and other charges and put on trial, he admitted to the undercover investigation.

    In requesting a retrial, the defense for Novosyolov, who is based in Russia, argued he did not have any intention of bringing a gun into Japan but the crime happened because he was induced by an individual who worked at the request of the police.

    The defense said that under such circumstances, the handgun should not have been used as evidence in court and that the man should be acquitted.

    Prosecutors, meanwhile, urged that a request for retrial be denied, saying the operation at the time was not illegal.

    Regarding the legality of sting operations, the Supreme Court disclosed in July 2004 its conditions under which the police may be permitted to conduct such operations, one of which is when the suspect is believed to be intent on committing a crime.