‘He didn’t understand English’: Court frees Japanese man held in drugs case
A Japanese national who spent six years in prison, has been acquitted in a drugs case by the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court which ruled the policemen did not follow the procedure to search him.
Yusuju Hinagata, 50, was arrested in July 2013 by the Anti-Narcotic Cell of the Goa Police. He was convicted by the special judge in 2016 who sentenced him to serve 10 years in jail.
According to the police version, Hinagata was stopped on a tip-off and searched after reading out his rights including informing him that he could avail the right to be searched in the presence of a gazetted officer or a Magistrate.
But, the police claimed, he declined the offer. The police also claimed that he was offered to search the members of the raiding party before they frisked him. Police claimed that when they searched him, Hinagata was found in possession of charas and LSD.
Hingnata challenged this version in his appeal to the high court, pointing out that he only understands Japanese and the police made no effort to communicate with him in a language he was familiar.
The high court found this argument convincing, and set aside the conviction.
“Even if the suspect may or may not choose to exercise the right of search provided to him under Section 50 of the NDPS Act, but it was obligatory upon the officer concerned under Section 50 of the NDPS Act to appraise the suspect of his right to be searched before a Gazetted Officer or a Magistrate,” the High Court ruled.
Given that Hingnata claimed he didn’t understand English, it could not be said that they satisfied the provisions of the NDPS Act while conducting the raid.
The high court ruled that the charges against the Japanese national did not indicate that the charges were explained to the appellant in a language understood by him.
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