Verdict from Japan. Yakov Yosef Ben Reizel
Report from the Tokyo High Court
16 May 2011
14:30 pm Tokyo time - session began.
16:15 - session concluded.
Dear Yidden around the world:
Last night the Tokyo High Court failed to overturn the ruling of the district court.
However, the presiding appelate judge did show leniency when calculating the credit for time served off the initial sentence. In total the judge deducted 814 days from the 6 year sentence, even though these days were spent al Hatorah ve'al havodah at the detention centre, and not in forced labour.
The prosecution initially demanded a 13 year sentence. You may remember that an extraordinary sentence of 6 years was handed down in the district court, in addition to a monetary fine of 4 million ¥, this equating to $50,000.
The verdict of 6 years was based on the fact that the judges found reason to accuse that Yakov Yosef should have suspected something was amiss, and although he had no clear knowledge of any contraband, there was negligence on his part for not being more cautious.
The judge claimed that the polygraph examination, whilst out ruling clear knowledge, does not prove lack of suspicion.
The defence attorneys were dismayed at the callous nature of the judge's dismissal of the defence arguments. Mr. Masaki, one of the lawyers, commented that the judge failed to glance even once at the lawyers during the verdict due to his lack of confidence with his verdict, and knowing that his verdict contains many illogical assumptions.
For a number of reasons an appeal was filed, among them:
1) Yakov Yosef's not accepting his verdict directly assisted Yoel Zev's trial which is taking longer than expected due to court technicalities and changes of judges. In Japan, not accepting the verdict is a powerful indication of the defendants and co-defendants claim to innocence.
Furthermore, the appeal process brought to light substantial evidence for the defence of Yoel Zev who is scheduled to receive his verdict on 29th August.
2) Yakov Yosef was saved having to go to a forced labour prison camp during the appeal phase. The forced labour sentence allows virtually no free time for davening or learning. Yakov Yosef spent this time in the detention centre learning with great hasmodah.
3) The District Court failed to examine some of the strong evidence material, including the polygraph results. It was hoped that at the appeal trial these elements would overturn the verdict.
Efforts are being made to retain Yakov Yosef's status at the Chiba detention centre until his transfer to Israel. We would want to avoid the forced labour at all costs. According to Israeli protocol, one third of the full sentence can be deducted, and the remaining time can also be commuted as per their discretion. According to this, Yakov Yosef could be out of prison within 10 months from now. Askonim are working towards this goal.
Reb Aron Nezri and Reb Meilech Bindinger visited Yakov Yosef immediately after the verdict, together with defence attorney Mr. Ozawa.
Yakov Yosef was amazingly upbeat. I quote some of his comments:
"I took upon myself kabolos toivois, however I do not regret them for a second."
"I also do not regret filing for my appeal. During this time I concluded hilchos boser becholov, hilchos taaruvos, and over 100 daf gemorroh; I would never have managed this elsewhere."
Mr. Ozawa sadly said to Yakov Yosef that he feels very sorry for him, and conveyed the feeling of the defense team, that Yakov Yosef's attitude in court and when accepting his sentence was respectful and
At the court room today were present the parents of Yakov Yosef, Reb Aron Nezri, Reb Meilech Bindinger, Rabbi Binyomin Edery and Rabbi Mendy Sudakevitch of Tokyo, and other concerned yidden from USA, UK, Israel and Japan.
May we merit to hear good tidings.
Please daven for Yaakov Yosef ben Raizel and Yoel Zev ben Mirel Reesa Chava.
To take part in the mitzva of pidyon shevuyim www.japanpidyon.org