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Surprise ruling acquits accused stimulant user

Date Posted: 2002-08-08

A judge’s rare ruling against prosecutors in a drug case is rising some eyebrows in local law enforcement circles. The case involves a man who allegedly used illegal stimulant drugs in his home in Gushikawa in January. Prosecutors claim that police had been called to restrain the man who had behaved erratically. An argument had ensued and when the man did not calm down, the police took the man to the local police station. Suspecting drug use, the police took a urine sample that later was confirmed positive.

The man’s defense lawyer argued that the police did not follow proper procedures. They said that the man had had an argument with his family, and that was no reason to take him to the police station. “There was even less reason to take his urine sample, and the results should be thrown out,” the defense claimed.

That was an argument that the presiding judge agreed with the defense in a trial at Naha District Court, Tuesday. “The defendant’s rights were clearly violated as the police did not have the paperwork necessary to take him to the police station, or to take the sample of his urine,” he said in his ruling and subsequently declared the defendant innocent.

Gushikawa Police Chief Yasuhiro Uchima said afterwards that the ruling was a big surprise. “We did all paperwork as required by the law and followed all usual procedures. I have to study the judgment carefully and try to understand it. And we will clamp down on illegal stimulants as vigorously as ever,” Uchima said.

Officials at Naha District Prosecutors’ Office also expressed their surprise. “This is an unusual and highly unexpected ruling. We will study this judgment carefully, and discuss the case with the upper court before we decide whether to take this case to the upper court,” an official at the Prosecutor’s Office said.

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