Supreme Court OKs detention of Swiss woman acquitted of smuggling Saturday, December 15, 2007

TOKYO — The Supreme Court has approved the detention of a Swiss woman after she was acquitted of smuggling stimulants, sources close to the trial said Friday. Presiding Justice Kohei Nasu dismissed an appeal by the 28-year-old woman against a lower court decision that accepted a request from public prosecutors that she be detained to prevent her from being deported, they said. Prosecutors requested that she be detained because if she was deported it would impossible for the prosecutors to appeal her acquittal in higher courts. The woman was arrested Oct. 24 last year at Narita airport after arriving on a flight from Malaysia carrying 2.2 kilograms of stimulants in a suitcase. She pleaded not guilty, saying she had not known about the drugs. The Chiba District Court acquitted her in August, citing reasonable doubt about her intent. (Kyodo News)


Swiss woman acquitted again after 8 months in detention

A Swiss woman on Wednesday was again found not guilty of drug smuggling, but she had to remain in detention for nearly eight months after being acquitted the first time. The decision by the Tokyo High Court raises further questions about the practice of incarcerating foreign defendants during the appeals process after they are found innocent. This occurs because deportation would make it difficult to continue the appeals process. Lawyers for the 28-year-old woman said she is a "victim of defects in Japanese laws" and called for legislation to address the issue. In the ruling, Presiding Judge Takao Nakayama brushed aside prosecutors' arguments that she tried to smuggle about 2.3 kilograms of methamphetamines hidden in a suitcase in 2006, saying there was "room for reasonable doubt" about her guilt. The woman said she was asked to carry the suitcase by an acquaintance and did not know what was inside. She was arrested in October 2006 and indicted for trying to smuggle methamphetamines from Malaysia. In August 2007, the Chiba District Court ruled the woman was not guilty. But prosecutors appealed and were granted permission from the court to detain the woman. Her detention, including the period spent in an immigration facility, lasted nearly 11/2 years. After reading the ruling Wednesday, Judge Nakayama told the woman that her detention could not be avoided. "Even this court cannot help but feel sympathy," Nakayama said. "But you imprudently brought methamphetamines into Japan even though you said you were not aware. "Please understand there was ample reason to assume a criminal act," he said. Her lawyers said there is a double standard in the system. "If the defendant were Japanese, she would not have been detained," one lawyer said. "Now that she has been found not guilty, the rationale behind her detention has become even more unclear." Under the Criminal Procedure Law, a Japanese defendant found innocent would be immediately released from detention. Prosecutors have argued that if foreign defendants are deported because their permits to stay in Japan have expired, it would be difficult to continue with an appeals trial. The twice-acquitted woman could end up back in detention if prosecutors decide to appeal once again. Kazuhiro Suzuki, deputy chief prosecutor of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office, issued a statement Wednesday, saying the ruling was "very disappointing." The woman was taken into custody at an immigration facility after the ruling. The woman's lawyers sought her release after her first acquittal, but the Supreme Court in December ruled in favor of the prosecutors. The top court said there was sufficient reason to suspect a crime had occurred and saw no problem in detaining the woman for the appeals trial. However, two of the five justices on the panel said the detention was a result of flaws in the Criminal Procedure Law and the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law. (IHT/Asahi: April 11,2008)


Swiss woman expresses anger at Japanese legal system 2008/10/10 CHIBA

A Swiss woman who had been detained by Japanese authorities for seven months even after her acquittal of a criminal charge in a district court expressed anger over the Japanese legal system in a written message she recently contributed to Kyodo News. ‘‘I was put under continuous detention because of shortfalls in Japanese law and alien policies,’’ Klaudia Zaberl, 29, wrote. ‘‘I have been filled with despair and anger.’’ Upon arriving in Japan from Malaysia as a tourist in October 2006, Zaberl was arrested for allegedly smuggling about 2.2 kilograms of amphetamines hidden in a suitcase into Narita airport. She denied the allegation saying she was not aware the suitcase she had been handed by a stranger in return for money contained the drugs. She was later indicted. The Chiba District Court cleared Zaberl of the charge in August last year, saying there was reasonable doubt that she was aware of the drugs. Following this ruling, she was transferred to an immigration facility instead of being freed as her visa had expired during detention. Prosecutors soon appealed the ruling and obtained court permission to detain her again to block her deportation. In April this year, the Tokyo High Court issued a not-guilty ruling, leading prosecutors to give up any further appeals. She returned to Switzerland later in April. Recalling the court decision to send her back to a detention center, Zaberl wrote in the message, written in German, ‘‘At first, I could not understand at all what would be happening. I screamed to myself, ‘This should not happen because I was given a not-guilty ruling.‘’’ ‘‘Without the love of my family and friends, I would have gone into an eternal sleep,’’ Zaberl spoke of her state of mind during the high court hearings. ‘‘If I were Japanese, I could have been able to wait for trials and a ruling (at the high court) while being in freedom. Despite being found not guilty, I was deprived of freedom because I was a foreigner,’’ she wrote. ‘‘One day, I want to visit Japan and have a good time,’’ Zaberl said. She is barred from entering Japan for five years because of the overstay.