Innocent Nepali Man Freed From Japan Jail After 15 Years

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According to an article published in Republica, Govinda Prasad Mainali, who was serving a life sentence in a Japanese jail in a high-profile murder case 15 years ago, walked a free man after the Tokyo High Court ordered a retrial Thursday, June 7.

The presiding judge based his ruling on new DNA testing which suggests that Mainali, who was serving life for murdering 39-year-old Yasuko Watanabe, a female employee of Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) in 1997, may be innocent.

Family members of Nepalese man Govinda Prasad Mainali, his wife Radhika Mainali (C), daughter Mithila Mainali (R) and Alisha Mainali (L) smile with their supporters in front of the Tokyo High Court in Tokyo (AFP)

Advocate Balaram Shrestha, who practices law in Japan, said that he probably would not have been found guilty if the test results had been submitted to the court back then.

“I am very happy following the retrial verdict. This is as good as winning the case,” said Mainali´s wife Radhika who had reached Tokyo along with their two daughters in anticipation of a favorable verdict. “I pray that no one else should have to go through all that we have suffered,” she added. It was her 10th attempt to seek justice for her husband.

Dr Gopal Krishna Siwakoti, president of Inhured International, who has been following the case since Mainali´s first arrested in 1997, called the re-trial verdict a landmark decision for migrant workers throughout the world. Japanese media said that this is the only retrial after World War II for convicts sentenced to death or life imprisonment.

Govinda Mainali, who left Nepal for Japan in 1994, worked as a waiter in Tokyo until police arrested him in March 1997. He was first held on the charge of overstaying and then on the charge of murdering Watanabe, who moonlighted as a prostitute and was killed on March 8, 1997.

DNA tests in July, 2011 showed that a semen sample collected from the woman’s body was not Mainali´s and instead matched a body hair sample found in the room where the woman´s body was found, suggesting the presence of another man at the time of the murder. Then came the revelation later in the year that the blood group of saliva traces found on Watanabe´s breast does not match that of Mainali. The saliva blood type is O, while his is B.

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