Change of venue denied for Okinawa slaying suspect
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Japan’s highest court has rejected a U.S. base worker’s request to move his trial on murder and rape charges from Okinawa to Tokyo.
Kenneth Franklin Gadson, 32, submitted the change-of-venue request last month, arguing he could not get a fair trial under the lay judge system – in which three professional judges and six lay judges hear a case – because of strong anti-military sentiments on the tiny island prefecture. Gadson’s attorney, Toshimitsu Takaesu, said extensive media coverage had influenced public opinion.
The Aug. 1 decision by the Second Petty Bench of the Supreme Court says a fair trial based on laws and evidence is fully guaranteed under the lay judge system, and that there is no reason to fear that impartiality cannot be maintained.
The court also said lay judges are appointed through a procedure that assures fairness and neutrality. A supporting opinion by Supreme Court Judge Katsumi Chiba said lay judges will pursue their duties in a fair manner based on laws and evidence.
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