TOYAMA HIMI RAPE CASE
Yanagihara Hiroshi

JIADEP Note: Two cases which are currently shaking up the courts and stoking the public's distaste are the Toyama Himi case and the Ashikaga case. Both involve exonerations for rape, while the Ashikaga includes the murder of a child. In the Toyama case, the real culprit came forward and confessed after being arrested for a separate crime. Both of these crimes involve confessions. The defendant in the Toyama case, Hiroshi Yanagihara, originally did not want his name published. His name appears in later articles about the case.
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False rape charges highlight need to record questioning of suspects

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Two people who were indicted on false charges of rape and later acquitted met Thursday with opposition party legislators and appealed for the need to record law enforcers' questioning of crime suspects. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is poised to submit to the Diet during the current session a bill to revise the Code of Criminal Procedure, which would ensure transparency of the entire process of questioning suspects to prevent false charges. To work out the bill, the largest opposition party deemed it necessary to interview victims of false charges over heavy-handed questioning they were subjected to. The two are Hiroshi Yanagihara, 40, who was acquitted in a retrial earlier this month after spending years behind bars for raping two women, and Shinichi Nakayama, 62, who has recently been acquitted for buying votes. "I wouldn't have admitted to the crimes I never committed or been found guilty if the questioning had been recorded and preserved as evidence," Yanagihara told the DPJ legislators. "I'd like you to take measures to ensure transparency of questioning to prevent any more people from falling victim to false charges by law enforcers." "If police are allowed to record only part of questioning, it would allow investigators to forge depositions. It's absolutely necessary to ensure transparency of the whole process of questioning," said Nakayama, a member of the Kagoshima Prefectural Assembly.

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Retrial opens to clear man wrongfully convicted of rape The Yomiuri Shimbun June 21, 2007

The retrial to prove the innocence of a 40-year-old man who was imprisoned after being wrongfully found guilty of rape and attempted rape, opened Wednesday at the Toyama District Court Takaoka branch. Prosecutors read out the indictment from 2002 when the man, from Himi, Toyama Prefecture, was charged in connection with the two crimes. The man denied the charges, saying, "I know nothing about them." He was arrested and found guilty of rape and attempted rape in 2002 and sentenced to three years in prison. However, the Toyama prefectural police later announced that the arrest was a mistake, as another man from Matsue, on trial for rape, confessed to the two crimes in November. In court, the man's defense counsel asked to question the Toyama prefectural police investigators who interrogated the man to reveal how the evidence was fabricated. But the prosecutors argued it was unnecessary, and presiding Judge Satoshi Fujita turned down the request. The next session will be held on July 18. The man will be acquitted after being questioned in court. At the session that opened at 10:30 a.m., the prosecutors read the indictment that accused the man as the assailant in the rape in January 2002 and attempted rape in March that year in Toyama Prefecture. Both victims were teenage girls. The prosecutors said in a statement, "The defendant is innocent," without fully disclosing how they reached the conclusion. The defense counsel also made a statement and severely criticized the faulty investigation, saying: "By prejudging the defendant as the assailant, [the police] arrested and detained him and, after a long, coercive interrogation, forced the man to make a fictitious confession and falsely charged him as a criminal." The prosecutors submitted evidence from the investigation in 2002, including materials that had not been disclosed, such as drawings of the assailant's face made from the victims' descriptions, and a record of the man claiming his innocence to a prosecutor of the Toyama District Public Prosecutors Office's Takaoka branch shortly after his arrest. (Jun. 21, 2007)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Retrial shows investigators railroaded wrongly jailed man 06/21/2007 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

TAKAOKA, Toyama Prefecture--The first hearing Wednesday in the retrial of a man wrongly imprisoned for rape showed that police and prosecutors withheld evidence proving he was innocent. The 40-year-old defendant was convicted of two counts of rape and attempted rape in 2002 and spent 25 months in prison. "I did not commit those acts," the man told the court. Demonstrating the bizarre nature of the retrial, prosecutors actually admitted they had no case and that the defendant, who wishes to remain anonymous, was innocent of the charges just as he had claimed. It was not a complete victory for the defendant, however. Satoshi Fujita, presiding judge at the Takaoka branch of the Toyama District Court, rejected a request by defense lawyers for police officers who originally questioned the man to testify in court. After Wednesday's session, the man issued a statement through his lawyers that said in part, "I am very disappointed (in the trial)." Defense lawyers had asked that efforts be made to shed light on the investigative process that led to an innocent man being imprisoned. However, the court only agreed to review evidence presented in the original trial and to allow fresh evidence to be submitted. In its opening statement, the defense team said, "The presumption that the man was the criminal was nothing more than the product of bias and prejudice on the part of the investigative agency." The new evidence served only to show the slipshod nature of investigations by police and prosecutors. When Toyama prefectural police first questioned the man in April 2002, he denied any involvement in the cases. However, under the duress of police questioning, the man finally "confessed" and was arrested. However, the next day, when facing a judge who was to decide his detention period, the man again denied any wrongdoing. He also told a lawyer who visited him that he was innocent. It was later learned that the man had been forced to sign a statement promising not to retract his confession. He was also told not to respond to further questioning by police except with a simple "yes." Among the new pieces of evidence that were presented on Wednesday was a record of a telephone call placed from the man's home with his older brother at the time the attempted rape was taking place. The record showed a 23-minute call was made from his home to his older brother. Toyama police had obtained a copy of that record, but overlooked its significance. Prosecutors did not present the telephone record as evidence in the original trial. The man also wore shoes that were smaller than prints found at the crime scene. When police could not find prints matching the man's shoes, they had the man confess he had burned them. The victim of the rape testified that she was threatened with a large knife with a serrated edge. The only knife confiscated from the man's home was a small fruit knife. However, in presenting their original case, prosecutors said the man had used the fruit knife and claimed the woman suffered a memory lapse because she was so shaken up by her ordeal. Toyama police denied the existence of the statement in which the man promised not to retract his confession as well as his claim that the police held his wrists and forced him to draw a map of the victim's room, which he had never seen. The man himself will testify at the next session, scheduled for July 18. Experts were appalled at the shoddy work done in the original trial. Takeshi Tsuchimoto, a former prosecutor and law professor at Hakuoh University, said: "In the present case, the reliability of the confession should have been examined by comparing it with other evidence. That is a basic rule that is taught in police academies. The fact that was not followed is extremely shameful." Tsuchimoto also faulted prosecutors working on the case for not realizing that the telephone record would show the man had a solid alibi.(IHT/Asahi: June 21,2007)

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Crimefighters slammed for framing man over rape June 20, 2007 (Mainichi)

TAKAOKA, Toyama -- Defense lawyers blasted police and prosecutors for framing a man over a rape as the rare trial to establish his innocence began at a court here Wednesday. The man, who must be tried again under a technicality because he had been found guilty of the charges before and his sentence confirmed, declared to the Takaoka Branch of the Toyama District Court that he was not guilty. Prosecutors also stated to the court that the man was not guilty of the charges laid on him. Defense lawyers slammed the initial investigation into the case and demanded that police be made to testify. "Police, who investigated the case on the strong assumption that the man was the criminal, forced him into a false confession and should be brought before the court," a defense lawyer said. Presiding Judge Satoshi Fujita, however, ruled against the defense, saying that bringing the police officers into the court was "unnecessary." Defense lawyers said they will continue to push to have the court find out the background of how the man was wrongly convicted. The man was convicted of a rape that occurred in Himi, Toyama Prefecture, in January 2002 and an attempted rape in the same city two months later. He served about two years and one month in jail before Eiichi Otsu, 52, was arrested and subsequently admitted to carrying out both the rape and attempted rape in Himi. Evidence found at the scene and DNA tests have matched Otsu to the case, though his trial in connection with the case is still underway. Prosecutors decided that Otsu's arrest meant the man convicted for the crimes had to have his name cleared quickly and took the irregular step of asking for him to be re-tried even before Otsu's case had finished. Normally, if a case is still being heard, somebody wrongly accused can be let off if prosecutors simply drop the charges. However, in this case, the man's guilty convictions had already been confirmed and he had no right of appeal left. Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, the trial must be held again and a not guilty verdict delivered. When the re-trial opened Wednesday, the judge questioned the accused, then allowed prosecutors to read out the same charges they had presented the court five years ago. Defense lawyers were then allowed to speak. "Police neglected to do a background investigation (for things like an alibi) and unfairly arrested, detained and questioned the man purely on assumption and prejudice," a defense lawyer said. "Investigators forced the man to make statements that they had fabricated based on the results of their on-the-spot inspections, evidence and documents." The hearing will re-open on July 18 when the accused man will testify.

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冤罪再審:「虚偽の自白強要」弁護側が批判 富山地裁支部 毎日新聞 2007620

富山県警に強姦(ごうかん)などの容疑で逮捕された男性(40)が服役後に無実と分かった冤罪(えんざい)事件で、男性の無罪を確定させる再審の初公判が20日、富山地裁高岡支部(藤田敏裁判長)で開かれた。男性は「身に覚えはない」と起訴事実を否認。検察側は冒頭陳述で「被告人は無罪です」とのみ述べ、男性の事件への関与を否定した。一方、弁護側は「男性が犯人であるとの強い予断に基づき、虚偽の自白を強要して刑事被告人に仕立てた」と警察・検察の捜査手法を厳しく批判。県警の取調官の証人尋問を求めたが、藤田裁判長が却下した。弁護側は今後、本人質問などを通し、冤罪が起こった原因や背景を追及する。  男性は02年1、3月に同県氷見市であった強姦と同未遂事件で懲役3年の有罪が確定。約2年1カ月の服役後、「真犯人」とされる松江市の大津英一被告(52)が氷見市の2事件について認め、現場の遺留物とDNAも一致した。大津被告の公判は継続中だが、検察は「男性の名誉回復を急ぐ必要がある」と、大津被告の有罪確定前に再審請求する異例の展開に。  公判中なら、検察側が起訴を取り下げることができるが、男性の刑は既に確定。刑事訴訟法に基づいて裁判をやり直し(再審)、無罪判決を受ける必要があった。  再審初公判では、裁判長による人定質問に続き、検察側は5年前の公判と同じ強姦と同未遂罪の起訴状を朗読した。  この後、弁護側は冒頭陳述で「(アリバイなどの)裏付け捜査を怠り、予断と偏見に基づいて不当な逮捕・拘置・取り調べをした」「供述内容は、捜査官が実況見分結果や証拠・資料からねつ造した物語を一方的に押しつけ、男性に無条件で認めさせて作成した」などと警察・検察の自白強要を指弾。当時の県警の取調官の証人尋問を求めたが、検察側が「不要」と主張。裁判長らが協議し、請求を却下した。  第2回公判は7月18日に開かれ、本人質問などをする予定。【茶谷亮、上野宏人】



Innocent man wants to know why he was jailed 05/22/2007 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

TOYAMA--A man who was wrongly imprisoned for rape says he won't rest until he learns why police targeted him and lied at every step of the investigation.
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A man, left, who was wrongly imprisoned for rape meets with reporters Monday along with his lawyers in Toyama.(The Asahi Shimbun)

The man, 39, spent 25 months in prison for the crime.
He spoke to reporters Monday about his feelings ahead of a retrial set for June and what went through his mind during his ordeal.
In 2002, the man was questioned by police about a case of rape and attempted rape.The man had an airtight alibi and initially denied any involvement. But under police duress, he gave in and confessed to the crimes.

After his arrest, he tried to retract his confession. Investigators continued to harass him, however, so he stopped protesting his innocence during his trial.

He was found guilty in November 2002 and handed a three-year prison term. He was released on parole in January 2005.

Last November, another suspect confessed to police that he was the culprit in the rape and attempted rape case for which the 39-year-old man had done time.

Toyama prefectural police arrested Eiichi Otsu in January. The physical evidence supported Otsu's confession.

In a rare step, Toyama prefectural police and the Toyama District Public Prosecutors Office in January acknowledged that the 39-year-old man was innocent.

The prosecutors office admitted the evidence gathered was insufficient.

Monday's news conference was the first time the man has spoken in public since he was found innocent.

"I don't want the retrial to end with a simple 'Not guilty.' I want to ask the police why they decided to come after me," he told reporters.

At his side was his older brother and three lawyers who will handle his case.

During questioning by Toyama police, the man said investigators told him that his family members had no doubts whatsoever that he was guilty of the crimes. He later found out that was not true.

On Monday, the man said, "There may be other innocent people who are still in detention. I don't want this issue to end up being just an issue involving me. I want those people also to go free."

As for his alibi that he was on the phone at the time of the crime, police told him that the other party had no recollection of the call, which was another lie.

The man's lawyers said they plan to summon the police officers who investigated the case to testify at his retrial.

The retrial was originally set for June 6, but the man changed his lawyers in mid-May.

His new lawyers have asked the Takaoka branch of the Toyama District Court for an extension of the retrial date to give them more time to prepare.

During the man's incarceration, his father died. The man said he also contemplated suicide during his ordeal.

Toyama prefectural police have not disciplined anyone involved in the case.