TOKYO (majirox news) — Prosecutors face criticism for concealing evidence after revealing over the weekend that they have DNA evidence that further casts doubt over the guilt of Govinda Prasad Mainali, a Nepalese man convicted for a March 1997 murder.
Mainali was found guilty of killing a 39-year-old Tokyo woman who led a double life as an elite employee of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) by day and a prostitute by night.
Mainali’s lawyers have appealed for a review of his life sentence confirmed by the Supreme Court after DNA found at the scene of the woman’s murder and used as evidence to convict him was found recently to have belonged to another person.
As part of the review process, the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office informed the Tokyo High Court and Mainali’s lawyers that it plans to submit about 40 further pieces of DNA evidence obtained from saliva of the victim’s chest area and came from somebody with a different blood type to Mainali, casting further doubt over his guilt.
Prosecutors have not produced this evidence in the more than 14 years since the murder occurred, but deny accusations of concealing it, saying that sample quantities were too minute to be able to use for DNA testing under methods available at the time.
“We’ve responded properly to a request to do (DNA testing) properly,” a prosecution source said on condition of anonymity. “We haven’t concealed anything.”
Prosecutors began DNA testing of evidence in March this year as part of the review process into Mainali’s case. They examined DNA samples obtained from about 40 items, including saliva and the victim’s belongings found at the scene. They found traces of DNA from saliva that came from a man with Type-O blood. Mainali has Type-B blood. Two men who had sex with the victim on the day she died both have Type-O blood and the saliva is believed to have come from one of these men.
Earlier this year, test results on DNA from traces of semen found on the victim’s body found they belonged to a man with Type-O blood.
Mainali has always protested his innocence in the case. He was initially found not guilty by the Tokyo District Court in 2000, but instead of being freed was arrested and held on visa violation charges while prosecutors appealed the decision. The Tokyo High Court overturned the lower court ruling and found Mainali guilty of murder, sentencing him to life imprisonment in 2000. The Supreme Court upheld the decision in 2003.