Sunday, June 20, 2010

"Full audio, videotaping of suspects' questioning called 'unrealistic'"

More from today's Japan Today:

The Justice Ministry thinks it "unrealistic" to require investigators to fully audio- and videotape the questioning of all criminal suspects, ministry officials said in an interim report. The ministry’s study group instead reached a tentative decision that selected criminal cases should be subject to full recording, the officials said.

Justice Minister Keiko Chiba, Senior Vice Minister of Justice Koichi Kato and Parliamentary Secretary of Justice Tetsuji Nakamura were among the study group members.

Chiba told a news conference on Friday that her ministry "will conduct realistic studies" on the matter, and that she will consult with state minister Hiroshi Nakai with the aim of making a final decision soon after June 2011.

Nakai, who supervises the country’s police forces as chairman of the National Commission on Public Safety, has also formed a similar study group with the Justice Ministry on recording suspects’ questioning.

The Justice Ministry’s interim report noted that the number of criminal cases handled by prosecutors across the country totals about 2 million a year and that suspects are questioned at various places, not only at prosecutors’ offices.

If full recording of questioning is required, lawyers and judges would have to watch the tapes for a long time, it said.

In Japan, there have been mounting calls for recording investigators’ questioning of suspects amid an increasing number of wrongful convictions in criminal cases.

Last year, Toshikazu Sugaya, 63, who was found guilty of killing a girl in 1990, was cleared of criminal charges in a retrial after serving more than 17 years in prison.

A parliamentarians group of the governing Democratic Party of Japan and the Japan Federation of Bar Associations call for full recording of questioning.

Read the story and readers comments:

Click here to see previous related posts about this subject and the documentary, Presumed Guilty, produced by the Japanese Bar Association. If you haven't seen this film, check it out.

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