My son Nick's High Court appeal ended on Thursday 21st July 2005. The Judges will hand-down their verdict on Thursday 27th October 2005.
Iris Baker Outside the Tokyo High Court
I am encouraged by the earnest examination by presiding Judge Tao, of the issues Nick's defense team were allowed to present and I hope and trust that he and his colleagues will carefully consider the main points raised in the appeal: i) The unreliable testimony of customs officer "K", whose statements concerning the location of the suitcase key changed at every turn. ii) The inconsistencies and procedural errors evident in the item confiscation reports. iii) The expert opinion by Professor Mizuno relating to the sub-standard translation and interpretation both at the initial police interrogations and district court hearings. Giving due consideration to these and all the other evidence in this high-profile case, I strongly believe they will deliver an honorable and just decision.
I am however concerned about prosecutorial-led trial conditions and the fact that prosecution is not required to disclose evidence favorable to the defense. I believe that this unfair balance is one of many areas that demand reform.
In common with the original Chiba District Court trials, the appeal was marked by very short hearings inter-spaced by lengthy detention periods in solitary confinement. The original district court verdict was handed down in June 2003. Nick's first appeal hearing was March 23rd 2004. There were 11 appeal hearings in total ending on 21st July 2005. That is a total of around 15 hours court time spread over 16 months. I believe this practice to be disadvantageous for both the physical and mental condition of the appellant and, moreover, unfairly prolongs their sentence if upheld, since only a percentage of time in detention is counted against any final prison term. I believe this is just one of many serious disincentives for those seeking to appeal earlier judgments.
Nick is eligible to apply for prisoner transfer under the Council of Europe agreement that Japan recent acceded to. Japan however has decided to change the agreement for themselves only. We urge the Japanese authorities to repeal their conditions attached to the C of E agreement in which they require applicants for transfer to have served at least 33% of their sentence in a Japanese jail. Japan is the only signatory to implement such a condition and I believe it runs contrary to the spirit of the agreement.
I would like to thank each and every person who signed our petition, donated funds and offered technical and logistical help. I am pleased to note that the campaign has brought to international attention the serious shortcomings and human-rights issues still pervading the Japanese judicial system. The case has been covered in the international (excepting Japanese) media. Six M.E.P.'s have signed the petition. Nick has the support of two United Kingdom Members of Parliament, The Baroness Sarah Ludford and Fair Trial Abroad. We gained the support Chika Honda, Mitsuo Katsuno and the other Japanese citizens unfairly imprisoned in Australia and have received message of encouragement from all corners of the world.
There are still things you can do: Nick would welcome visitors. You can contact the British and Japanese governments, write to your MP or political representative - Please see our "How You Can Help Page."
On a final note, Nick and I, from the bottom of our hearts, thank every single person - especially in Japan - but also world wide, who have supported and helped both Nick and myself. We could not have done any of this without you. On each trip I have made to Japan, everyone as shown me the most wonderful kindness. Through this most tragic journey, Nick and I have made some very special new friends.
Japan, you are a lovely Country, your people are kind, gentle and honorable but to be considered a truly developed nation you need to show that you uphold human rights and ensure that every single person regardless of nationality is given a just and fair trial.
This has been the worst emotional journey I have ever taken. No one should have to make this journey anywhere in the world today in the fight for justice and human rights. Nick has not had a fair trial, please give him a fair verdict!
Iris Baker - Cirencester, UK. July 2005
Justice for Nick Baker supports all those other foreign and Japanese nationals detained unjustly in Japan's prisons, including:-
Patrick Loughlin ,
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Nick Baker Final Hearing
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