Naha Summary Court messes up arrest warrant

The Naha Summary Court made a mistake issuing an invalid arrest warrant on Nov. 15. The warrant was issued without a judge’s seal, resulting in the Okinawa Prefectural Police arresting a suspect without anyone noticing the mistake.

The missing seal was not noticed until the next day and the police had to release the suspect, who was then arrested again on the spot, this time with a proper paperwork.

According to Naha District Court that guides and supervises the Naha Summary Court, police had sent a request for the arrest warrant on a theft case, and staff of the court drafted a note. But for some reason the staff issued the warrant without filing it through a judge.

The police did not notice the judge’s seal was missing, and arrested the suspect using the invalid arrest warrant.

When the suspect was referred to prosecutors the next day, the mistake was detected. The Prosecutors’ Office then released the suspect but immediately arrested him again with a re-issued corrected warrant.

A police spokesman explained, “It was not quite a proper procedure, but we need to request for a detention within 72 hours from the arrest, so we recognize that resulted in the prosecutors correcting the matter.”

The head of the Naha District Court, Minoru Masuda, said, “It’s really regrettable such mistake happened with the warrant paper work. That’s related to principles of human rights of the suspect. We will remind our staff and judges to make sure such mistakes will never happen again. We will make our utmost efforts to prevent a recurrence of this situation in the future.”

The Naha District Court is also investigating what lead to the mistake.

Okinawa Prefectural Police General Manager Hiroki Tsutsui said, “We will remind all of our staff to thoroughly check the warrants in the future.”

The Japanese Code of Criminal Procedures rules require writing the suspect’s name and suspected crime on the arrest warrant, and a judge needs to write his or her name and put the seal on it. Otherwise, the arrest warrant is invalid.