The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a 37-year-old Nepalese man serving a life sentence for the murder of a 39-year-old woman in 1997, it was learned Tuesday.
The court’s Third Petty Bench unanimously rejected an appeal by former restaurant employee Govinda Prasad Mainali, who was initially acquitted by the Tokyo District Court of the slaying. The Tokyo High Court sentenced Mainali to life in 2000.
The decision by the top court effectively ends the six-year trial.
Mainali, who lived in a building next to the apartment where the victim’s body was found, pleaded innocent to charges of killing the woman and robbing her of 40,000 yen. The woman was an employee of Tokyo Electric Power Co. by day and worked as a prostitute by night. Mainali was her client.
No direct evidence linking Mainali to the crimes has been presented to the court.
The district court and the high court differed on the circumstantial evidence presented by prosecutors. The district court ruled that the evidence left “reasonable room for doubt.”
Prosecutors said Mainali and the victim knew each other, he had a key to the room where she was found, a DNA test of sperm in a condom found at the murder site matched that of Mainali’s and that he needed money.
But the high court, based on the same evidence, overturned the lower court’s ruling, saying there was no doubt of Mainali’s guilt. It acknowledged, however, that some issues remain unclear.
In rejecting Mainali’s appeal, presiding Justice Tokiyasu Fujita of the nation’s top court said in a ruling dated Monday that the high court’s reversal was reasonable because “it did not issue the verdict simply based on trial records and evidence presented to the district court.”
He said the Supreme Court’s examination of the trial records found no sign of obvious misjudgment. The Supreme Court must therefore reject the defendant’s appeal, he said.
The top court, however, did not offer its own judgment of the evidence.
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