• Kyodo

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A 42-year-old man sentenced last July to two years in prison for assaulting a female worker at a bar in Kyoto was exonerated Friday by the Osaka High Court.

The higher court overturned the Kyoto District Court’s ruling on the basis that the victim’s testimony was not credible.

Presiding Judge Akiyoshi Sasano said in Friday’s ruling: “Testimony provided by the victim is not necessarily trustworthy and shall not be accepted wholeheartedly.”

The defendant was tried on suspicion of assaulting the woman while she was working at a bar in Shimogyo Ward in June 2013.

The woman testified that when she asked the man to leave the bar, he refused. She said the man grabbed her shoulders, pulled her to the ground and sexually assaulted her.

The woman sued the man for inflicting injuries that she said took about a week to heal. In the first trial, the prosecution demanded a four-year sentence, but the district court sentenced him to two years.

The woman reportedly testified that the man became frustrated and banged a bar counter with both of his hands shortly before the alleged incident.

Evidence presented at the trial included pictures of palm prints from the suspect’s hands on the wooden bar counter.

However, since the wooden patterns of the counter in the photos were different, the Osaka High Public Prosecutor’s Office opened a new investigation into the case and found that the palm prints were taken from different parts of the bar counter. The prosecutors apologized for the misunderstanding, saying there had been a miscommunication between them and the police.

The man’s lawyer accused the prosecution of falsifying evidence and said they were considering seeking compensation from the government for a wrongful conviction.

“We will thoroughly verify the content of the (high court’s) ruling to issue an adequate verdict,” said deputy chief prosecutor Kazuo Sakakibara of the Osaka High Public Prosecutor’s Office.

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