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Japan court grants retrial to convicted Russian following ‘unfair’ undercover probe

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 undercover investigation” by local police.

Presiding Judge Koji Saeki granted the retrial to the former sailor, 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.

“It was an illegal investigation that induced” the crime, Saeki said. “The state that should be preventing crimes have created a crime involving a handgun, thereby threatening the life and safety of its citizens.”

The Russian man, 46, 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 out the prison term. He now lives in Russia.

The court said the authorities, who are responsible for preventing crimes, ended up causing another crime and hiding the truth about the undercover investigation, preventing the accused from receiving a fair trial.

Saeki said that Hokkaido police collaborated with each other to testify in court to cover up the fact that they were engaged in an undercover investigation.

“It defies the objective of a trial and deprived the (defendant) from receiving a fair trial,” he said. “The evidence obtained from the undercover investigation is inadmissible. The man should be found not guilty.”

A request for retrial was made in September 2013.

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

In his own trial, the former inspector had testified that he had instructed a police collaborator to solicit foreign nationals to bring in handguns to the country.

In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled that undercover investigations should be allowed only if the targeted person is suspected of committing a crime if given an opportunity.

  • Charles

    This was entrapment.

    I sure wouldn’t bring a gun into this country, but if someone offered me $1,000,000,000, then I probably would. Every man has his price. The whole point of anti-entrapment laws is to prevent police from enticing someone who otherwise wouldn’t be a criminal into committing a criminal act.

    That the entrapment part of the undercover investigation was not shown in court is no surprise to me. This country’s justice system is in the middle ages (not an exaggeration, it literally is). Police can hold someone for 23 days, can force a confession, there is little access to a lawyer, and the conviction rate is 99%. There are almost all autopsies, so most murders are probably classified as “accidents.” The entire police/justice system in this country needs to be razed to the ground and a new one needs to be created, hopefully using as few of the original people as possible.