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Friday, Sep. 16, 2011

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Guilty until proven innocent: Govinda Prasad Mainali's wife, Radha, speaks during a news conference Thursday in Tokyo, as his elder brother, Indra Prasad, looks on. KYODO PHOTO

Mainali's kin submit retrial request

Staff writer

The wife and brother of Govinda Prasad Mainali, a Nepalese man serving life in prison for the 1997 robbery-murder of a 39-year-old woman, on Thursday called for his immediate release and demanded a retrial be held to prove his innocence.

It is the first time Mainali's wife, Radha, and elder brother, Indra Prasad, have visited Japan since the results of new DNA tests conducted in late July showed that semen found inside and on the woman was not that of the 44-year-old Nepalese man.

Mainali has been seeking a retrial since 2005.

"Today, I visited the Tokyo High Court for the ninth time, but on this occasion I submitted a petition (for a retrial) with high hopes because of the fresh DNA tests," said his wife, 41, at a news conference. "It is evident from the DNA results that he is innocent. I want the prosecutors to return my husband to us."

Earlier in the day, Mainali's wife and brother visited the Tokyo High Public Prosecutor's Office and Tokyo High Court with petitions seeking a retrial and expressing dismay that crucial evidence, which could have helped prove Mainali's innocence, had been withheld at his trial.

Prosecutors reportedly found a sample of blood-type O saliva on the woman's chest, suggesting that another man had been present in her apartment, but did not submit it as evidence in court. Mainali's blood type is B.

"My husband has been imprisoned for 14 years for no reason. He is innocent. Words cannot describe the hardship our family has been through after he was taken from us," she said.

Indra Prasad Mainali, 53, also urged prosecutors to release his brother and called on the court to hold a retrial, saying, "It is crystal clear that he's innocent."

The Tokyo District Court acquitted Mainali of the woman's murder in April 2000, and in its ruling noted that the evidence presented by prosecutors generated reasonable doubt over his involvement.

But after prosecutors appealed the case, the Tokyo High Court judged the same evidence to be trustworthy and meted out a life term in December 2000. The Supreme Court finalized the sentence three years later.

Meanwhile, Kyodo News reported that prosecutors plan to stick to their original argument that Mainali was the culprit.

Their argument was compiled in a paper that the Tokyo High Public Prosecutor's Office will submit to the Tokyo High Court on Friday. The prosecutors had so far been mum on the fresh DNA analysis.

According to sources, prosecutors will argue in the paper that it is an "illogical jump" to argue that a third person had had contact with the victim, and will maintain that Mainali is the only person who could have been in the woman's apartment at the time of her murder.

Information from Kyodo added

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