Govinda Prasad Mainali of Ilam who was acquitted in November last year for a 1997 murder in Japan that he did not commit has received compensation worth rupees sixty million. Govinda Mainali, now 46, was convicted of killing a 39-year-old woman for which he spent 15 years in prison. In 2012 new DNA techniques used to re-examine evidence showed that the semen found inside the victim’s body was not Govinda’s, and matched that of another person’s hair found in the room where she was killed. He was granted a retrial in June and the Tokyo High Court found him not guilty on 7 November 2012.
Govinda had filed a compensation claim for 68 million yen (around 60 million rupees) at the Tokyo Disctrict Court in December last year. Japan’s Criminal Compensation Law allows those who were wrongly imprisoned to seek government compensation at a rate of 1000 yen to 12,500 yen per day (NRs 800 to 1, 1000) per day.
Speaking to BBC Nepali Service on Friday Mainali said, “It is a victory of justice but the money cannot ever bring back the productive years I had to spend in prison.” Govinda who had always claimed his innocence is also considering a separate lawsuit for damages. “The emotional and physical trauma my family and I had to go through during the years I spent in prison will take a long time to heal,” he said.
Last week Govinda Mainali published a book called Paribandama Pandra Barsa (Fifteen years of impediment) chronicling the fifteen years he spent in Yokohama Prison while maintaining his innocence.
1994: Govinda arrives in Japan from Ilam and works in an Indian restaurant in Chiba
March 8, 1997: 39-year-old woman is killed in a Tokyo flat, body found a week later
March 23: Govinda arrested and initially charged with overstaying and then with murder and robbery
April 2000: Tokyo District Court acquits Govinda
December 2000: Govinda gets life sentence from Tokyo High Court
October 2003: Supreme Court upholds verdict
March 2005: Mainali files appeal for retrial with high court
21 July, 2011: Yomuiri Shimbun breaks story on prosecution suppressing new DNA evidence
26 July: Defense submits retrial request to Tokyo High Court
4 August: ‘Justice for Govinda’ and the Nihon Kokumin Kyuuenkai petition the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office to release Govinda
2 September: Prosecutors disclose to defence team that there are 42 additional items of evidence for DNA tests
8 September: Defence team learns saliva on victim was Type O blood (Govinda’s blood type is B), protests suppression of evidence
12 September: Govinda’s wife Radha and brother Indra visit him in prison amidst heavy media coverage
16 September: Prosecutors say saliva test result is insufficient ground for retrial
7 June 2012: Govinda released from prison after Japan High Court orders retrial after DNA evidence shows that the semen found inside the victim’s body was not Govinda’s