• Kyodo

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The Osaka High Court on Tuesday decided to send a robbery case involving a Nigerian man who was sentenced to six years in prison back to a lower court.

The 39-year-old man, who has already served his prison sentence, made an appeal for retrial after the Kobe District Court’s Himeji branch in Hyogo Prefecture rejected a previous appeal to reopen the case in March 2014.

Presiding Judge Akiyoshi Sasano of the appeals court decided to send the case back to the Kobe court, saying deliberations at the branch court had not been sufficient.

The man was arrested in June 2001 on suspicion of robbing a Himeji post office of some ¥22.7 million with a male relative.

The branch court sentenced him to six years in prison for his involvement in the robbery and the ruling was upheld by the high court in 2005 and the Supreme Court in 2006.

After completing his prison sentence in 2009, he made the first appeal in March 2012.

In October 2012, his lawyers presented new evidence showing a DNA sample taken from a ski mask believed to have been used by the culprit did not match that of their client, arguing the real culprit was another person.

But the branch court judged there was a “strong” chance the man was involved in the robbery, even if he may not have committed it himself, given that the stolen money was discovered at a warehouse he managed.

In Tuesday’s decision, Sasano said the major focal point was whether the man was one of the two culprits in the case or not.

The judge said the branch did not look into whether a person other than the accused could have entered the warehouse.

Throughout his trials, the Nigerian man claimed his innocence while his relative, who was also arrested in connection with the case, said the other culprit was not the Nigerian man.

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