New evidence has come to light in the 1997 murder of a senior female official of Tokyo Electric Power Co. DNA analysis shows that semen taken from the victim's body did not match that of a Nepali man (Govinda Mainali) who has been convicted of killing her and sentenced to life imprisonment. He is seeking a retrial. According to results of the new tests, the semen's DNA type matched that of a body hair found at the scene of the crime, an unoccupied apartment.
This fact shows that someone other than the convicted man might have been with the victim at the murder scene. It raises serious doubts about the ruling of the Tokyo High Court that overturned a decision by the Tokyo District Court acquitting the defendant. The high court said it was hard to believe the victim entered the apartment with a person other than the defendant.
Mainali's defence lawyers contended the DNA tests were sufficient new evidence for the court to declare the convicted man not guilty of the crime. They submitted the DNA test report to the high court, asking that it be admitted as new evidence for a retrial. If the court accepts the new evidence, the case is likely to be reopened. The high court should review the case thoroughly to clarify the truth by scrutinizing the old evidence as well as the results of the new DNA analysis.
The 39-year-old TEPCO worker was strangled in the apartment in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, and 40,000 yen in cash was stolen from her bag. Mainali, living in a building next to the apartment, was arrested, but he has consistently denied killing the woman. The district court found him not guilty because it said there was reasonable doubt that the Nepali man was the perpetrator of the crime. The high court overturned this ruling on the grounds that the district court had failed to evaluate the evidence correctly and misunderstood the facts. The Supreme Court upheld the high court's decision.
The case raises questions over whether the police had carried out a thorough investigation. Why did the police not conduct a DNA analysis similar to the latest one when they investigated the case? Some observers say the amount of semen sampled was so small it was technically difficult to arrive at a conclusion. Another flaw in the investigation was that the police analyzed only four of more than 10 body hairs found at the crime scene. The prosecutors must clear up these doubts before the high court.