Friday, February 24, 2012

"NPA panel calls for more 'visualization'"

Can't get enough visualization... Here's the latest on this ridiculous situation (click here and here for background information) - story from The Daily Yomiuri Online, 2/24/12:

An expert panel of the National Police Agency proposed in its final report released Thursday that recording of the results of questioning in investigations--a practice called "visualization"--should be implemented in a wider range of cases.

Currently, parts of the investigation process in cases subject to lay judge trials in which defendants have admitted guilt are subject to visualization by audio or video recording, but the panel said this was not sufficient.

The report proposes implementing audio or video recording on a test basis in a wider range of cases in which defendants insist they are not guilty.

Based on the report, the NPA plans to instruct all prefectural police headquarters to test-implement visualization in a wider range of cases starting in April.

The recording of investigative questioning by police started in September 2008.

The measure was taken in cases chosen by police from among serious cases subject to the lay judge system, such as murder, robbery resulting in homicide and dangerous driving resulting in death, in which it might be questioned whether defendants' statements were truly voluntary.

By the end of last year, such visualization had been implemented in a total of 1,587 cases.

Defendants who insisted they were not guilty were excluded from the measure on the grounds that it is not necessary to prove their statements were voluntary.

From now on, visualization will be implemented even in cases of defendants insisting they are not guilty to prove questioning was properly conducted and avoid wrongful convictions.

The scenes that are currently recorded are those of police officers reading an account of what the defendant has already said in earlier questioning and then asking the defendant to confirm it.

Such scenes, about 15 minutes long, are recorded on DVD.
(my bolding...)

The panel says that from now on visualization should also be implemented to record suspects' statements just after their arrest and to record changes in the content of suspects' statements over time.

In addition, the report called for visualization to be done in some cases that are not subject to the lay judge system.

Such cases include, for example, ones in which suspects are mentally handicapped and have difficulty communicating with investigators, resulting in a tendency of the suspects to say what they think the investigators want to hear.

Concerning questioning by prosecutors, visualization has been done in cases prosecutors began directly investigating in April last year, whether or not the cases are subject to the lay judge system.

By the end of last year, visualizations were made at all steps of about 40 percent of such cases.

In a case related to the political funds management body Rikuzan-kai, in which former Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa, 69, has been accused of violating the Political Funds Control Law, an audio recording of questioning of his former secretary was replayed in a trial session.

The former secretary underwent voluntary questioning by the special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office and secretly recorded the conversation.

The Tokyo District Court judged from the recording that prosecutors pressured or tried to guide the former secretary toward making statements favorable to their case. And the judges decided not to accept many of the former secretary's statements as evidence.

The incident indicated that visualization can also be effective for ensuring investigations are conducted properly.

The NPA panel was established in February 2010 with lawyers and former investigators as members so that effective visualization could be implemented without obstructing the protection of public safety.


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