Update 28 October 2005
After three long years of campaigning, Nick Baker has lost his appeal to be
set free. The 32 year old British chef, and father of a one year old son,
traveled to Japan in 2002 in advance of the World Cup. He was arrested at
Tokyo's Narita Airport when ecstasy pills and cocaine were found in the
false bottom of a suitcase. Nick protested he had been duped by a traveling
companion, James Prunier, but Japanese police allowed Prunier to leave the
country without questioning him.
For those FPSS members who have been following this case from its
beginning, the evidence is clearly overwhelming that an innocent man has
been detained in one of the harshest prisons in Japan and now condemned
without a fair trial.
On 27 October 2005, FPSS New Zealand member and close friend of the family,
Kathryn Talmage informed FPSS that the Judge had pronounced the verdict -
GUILTY. The District Court sentence was quashed and Nick was sentenced 11
years hard labour with a three million Yen fine. The judge later agreed
that three years [time served] would be taken into consideration which
means that Nick will have to serve a further eight years.
It is an absolute travesty of justice and FPSS are greatly concerned about
how Nick and his mother Iris will handle this news.
Kathryn Talmage shared her concerns with FPSS in a statement released today;
Todays guilty verdict in the Tokyo High Court was a travesty of justice. We
have all been left reeling with shock, disappointment and anger at the
verdict. Japan's justice system has failed dismally today. This was not an
appeal it was a farce. From the time Nick was arrested he has been treated
with utmost brutality and lack of respect by the authorities From the
outset of Nick's trial and then appeal process, vital evidence was
disregarded. Nick's travelling companion Mr Prunier who duped Nick into
carrying the suitcase through customs was known to the US Federal Police
and wanted by Interpol. Despite Nick's statement to police, Prunier was
allowed to stay in Japan for 3 days with no police investigation. Prunier
was later arrested in Belgium for committing the same act again with
another couple, the Belgium authorities released the innocent couple later.
The prosecution [Japan] blocked all evidence being allowed from the Belgium
authorities relating to Mr Prunier's involvement. The Belgium authorities
used Nick's statement in its own investigation of Prunier and his movements
and were keen to give this evidence of such that could prove Nick's
innocence to the defence.
There were a number of other vital pieces of evidence to point towards
Nick's innocence that were totally disregarded. The fact that 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. This would further suggest that
the officer was either mistaken or had committed perjury at the Chiba
District Court. If there is a likelihood that a key witness in this case
committed perjury, it is indeed a very serious matter.
It is blatantly clear that Nick has not received a fair trial and that
Japan has not complied with the International law of fair trials (ICCPR) to
which it is treaty bound. Under article 14 of the ICCPR it states:
- Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall have the right to be
presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.
- In the determination of any criminal charge against him, everyone shall
be entitled to the following minimum guarantees, in full equality:
(a) To be informed promptly and in detail in a language which he
understands of the nature and cause of the charge against him;
(b) To have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defense
and to communicate with counsel of his own choosing;
(c) To be tried without undue delay;
(d) To be tried in his presence, and to defend himself in person or through
legal assistance of his own choosing; to be informed, if he does not have
legal assistance, of this right; and to have legal assistance assigned to
him, in any case where the interests of justice so require, and without
payment by him in any such case if he does not have sufficient means to pay
(e) To examine, or have examined, the witnesses against him and to obtain
the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same
conditions as witnesses against him;
(f) To have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand
or speak the language used in court;
(g) Not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt.
In summing up today Judge Tao said, "The drugs were skillfully hidden, and
it must be taken into account that their amount was extremely large," Judge
Tao also said. "In addition, the defendant has not reflected sincerely on
It would seem beyond belief that Nick should have to show remorse to the
courts for a crime he did not commit. The only crime committed was today's
guilty verdict of an innocent man who's life has been turned upside down
for the last 3 years, 6 months and 14 days. His Mother Iris has been left
absolutely devastated after her courageous fight and campaign to free her
son. It has been a very sad day in Japan today and we all pray Nick will
have the strength to continue his fight against injustice.
Japanese prosecutors do not have disclose all evidence gathered to the
defence. They can pick and choose what to present in court and are able to
hide exonerating evidence.
FPSS would like to encourage all members to write letters of concern. Let
us not give up on this young man, his courageous mother Iris Baker or his
beloved son George!
See how you can help at the following
link.. click here