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Japanese Supreme Court upholds Marine’s conviction on technicality

Date Posted: 2005-07-15

Michael Brown lost another battle to overturn his attempted molestation conviction this week as the Supreme Court refused to accept a photocopied document that was part of his appeal.

Brown, a Marine Corps major, was convicted in a Nov. 2, 2002 incident when he and a Filipino woman clashed and he was charged with attempted rape. He was also charged with destruction of private property for destroying the woman’s cellular telephone when she tried to call police.

The career officer was convicted of attempted molestation and property destruction after the attempted rape charge was tossed out by the court. The trial took a bizarre turn when the victim testified that she had never wanted to bring charges against Brown, but had been intimidated by Japanese officials. She asked the court to drop all charges, an appeal that was ignored by the Naha District Court.

The Fukuoka High Court’s appeal denial on technical grounds exhausts all normal procedures for overturning the trial result. The lower court had refused to accept an appeal document that was a photocopy, saying the law required an original. Brown’s attorney, Toshimitsu Takaesu, says he presented the original to the Naha court, and was given the original in return, instead of the photocopy. The court, he noted, did not dispute Brown’s signature.

In July 2004, Brown was sentenced to a year in prison, suspended for three years. He remains confined to Okinawa since the 19-month trial, although his family has since returned to the United States.

Takaesu says Brown’s options are very limited, perhaps only a petition for a retrial. Such motions are rarely accepted by Japanese courts.

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