21st July 2005
Events on the day which saw the final phase of Nick Baker's 3-year battle for justice before the Japanese judicial system, began even before the commencement of the final court hearing with a plea from Nick's mum Iris, who had traveled across the world to Tokyo, to the High Court to accept a 4000 signature petition, plus a Mother's private letter to appellate court presiding Judge Tao and newspaper cuttings of Nick's plight garnered from the International press.
Iris Baker Outside the Tokyo High Court
The session proper began at 13:50 JST (04:50am GMT) when, amid high security, Nick was led chained into to a packed courtroom number 718. The public gallery included concerned individuals who had flown in especially from the United Kingdom, Holland and Thailand.
Primary defense counsel Miyake commenced proceedings by reading to the hushed courtroom excerpts from a weighty summation document and launched into a near 80-minute 3-pronged attack aimed to finally dispel the prosecution case.
Point number one - hammered-home the fact that whilst traveling together, Baker became concerned about the questionable activities of con man James Prunier. In fact, so concerned was he that he (Baker) even insisted that they not return to the United Kingdom together.
Iris Baker Discusses a Legal point with Defense Council Miyake outside the Tokyo High Court
Point number two - described the collusion between prosecutors and customs investigation officers. Details emerged of how the initial customs officers report, filed on the very day of Nick's arrest, neglected to even mention the critical question of the whereabouts of the key to Prunier's suitcase. It was only some three weeks later and exactly one day before Baker's indictment, that the very same customs officer, resubmitting the exact same report, added just a few lines in which he now claimed to have seen Nick throw the key into the case. The officer then changed his story again at the Chiba district court trial, now claiming he had "seen something fly through the air, but not Nick's hand throw anything as he was looking in the direction of the suitcase." Evidence from photographic expert examination of the inside of the suitcase seems also to dispel the officer's testimony by showing the key to be in fact enclosed in a tightly zipped shut net pouch within the suitcase.
Point number three - a clear pattern was shown to emerge, through analysis of Baker's statements, of coercion by investigators. Baker has constantly insisted that he was told that if he signed their Japanese-language statements, he would be allowed to return home to his family. This is reflected in the sudden change in his story on April 24th, some 11 days after his arrest, after which every single statement concluded with his "earnest desire to co-operate with the investigation and be sent home at the earliest opportunity."
With no final comments forthcoming from the prosecutor's table, Judge Tao set the date for the verdict for October 27th at 13:30. As a shackled and tethered Nick was led away to ponder his ultimate fate back at in solitary confinement at the Tokyo Detention House, Iris reached out to touch his arm but was pushed away by guards.
Emerging for impromptu post-hearing interview on the steps of the courthouse Iris declared her desire for "justice to be done" and Miyake reiterated his firm belief in his client's innocence.
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