Shinzato to stand trial in Okinawa
Japan’s Supreme Court has said no to a petition by Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, who is charged with the rape and murder of a 20-year-old Okinawan woman in May. Shinzato’s lawyer submitted the petition on behalf of his client in July to transfer the trial to Tokyo District Court from Okinawan court because Shinzato insists that he can’t get a fair trial in Okinawa.
The Supreme Court handed down its ruling on Monday. According to the presiding Justice Yoshinobu Onuki, a fair trial is guaranteed under the lay judge system, so there’s no reason to change the venue. Shinzato had argued that the media in Okinawa has infected Okinawan residents with negative feelings “entrenched by animosity,” and thus the lay judges (jury) for the trial, who are selected among local residents, would have advance negative opinions regarding his guilt.
The rejection means that Shinzato will face the court in Naha. Justice Katsumi Chiba of the Supreme Court said that regardless of particular circumstances and thoughts of local residents, district court judges can be fully counted on to conduct a fair trial.