“Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty”. Universal Declaration of Human rights, article 11.
Though it may appear that everything has been said and done regarding the drug-related incident that involved students of Tohoku University last year, the circumstances of the arrests are still a blur. In order to clarify on what grounds the students were taken under custody, the team of The Sentinel contacted one of them for an interview. The student, decided to stay anonymous.
- According to the police reports, all the students involved in the incident consumed an illegal drug, allegedly cocaine, in parties either in a night club or in the University dorm. Were you actually in one of these? If so, what happened during the event?
“It’s true that all detained students consumed illegal drugs at some point. We did it in the club one night where we got it from Australian guy who was arrested first. None of us planned on doing that, it’s just that we were pretty drunk and at some point he offered us drugs. Also that night, other people who were not found by the police used drugs that he possessed but they were not students and known to me.”
- When the police took you into custody, were you, at any moment, told the reason why you were being detained?
“It’s their obligation to tell you why they are detaining you and explain it all, so yes.”
- Were you in possession of any illegal substances when you were detained?
“No. None of the other 6 students possessed or bought drugs. Only the guy who was arrested first and who bought them had drugs when police came.”
- Did someone, at any moment, told you the charges you were accused of?
“After police arrested a couple of our friends, we suspected we might be next. Also some other students were just brought in for questioning and we were informed that police might arrest us too.”
- Did the police provide you with a translator?
“Yes. Even during the arrest, and later when I was held in custody, during every interrogation there has to be a translator. “
- Were you subjected to any form of mistreatment while you were under custody?
“No. Police was nice to me. They tried to help even though communication was a bit difficult due to the language barrier. “
- Did you have a trial? If so, were you allowed to contact a lawyer?
“We had government assigned lawyers but we didn’t have a trial. On the second day of the custody, police took me to talk to the prosecutor and judge where I admitted that the thing I was accused of was true.”
- Under what conditions were you left free?
“I believe me and my friends were pardoned by the judge since it was our first crime and it wasn’t anything serious. I wasn’t convicted of anything or paid any fine to be released. Also, I think university assured police that I and my friends will leave Japan after we are released. I also wrote an apology letter to the judge where I stated my intention to leave Japan if released.”
- Were you officially expelled from Japan?
“I’m not really sure cause after I got out, people from Tohoku University helped me with moving out and all that and after that I went to Tokyo for the airplane. I wasn’t under any surveillance by the police, I met with friends and even spent a day in Tokyo before I left. Also my lawyer told me that we can return to Japan as tourists if we want. Maybe it will be more difficult to get a job and a permanent stay but I don’t think there is a problem to come back and I intend to do that one day.”
As per this statement, the student was treated with respect and kindness while under custody. However, all of the 6 students were arrested without any physical evidence against them. Whether or not they were presumed innocent is, perhaps, a point open for discussion, but the crux of this matter is if there is no incriminating evidence against someone, on what grounds is this person arrested?
Disclaimer : The Sentinel is unbiased regarding any incident that takes place within or outside the university. It seeks to state the facts and not take any side. It respects the law of the land but at the same time, seeks to have an open discussion about the same from opposing perspectives.
The Sentinel is not obliged to reveal any details about the interviewee to anyone. No requests regarding revealing of details shall be entertained.