Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Miura's baffling suicide

"An investigation into a 27-year-old murder has come to a shocking and abrupt end.

"Kazuyoshi Miura, a former trading company president and the key figure in the 1981 shooting of his wife, Kazumi, in Los Angeles, killed himself in a Los Angeles Police Department holding cell on Friday.

"Miura was visiting the U.S. territory of Saipan in February when he was arrested by U.S. police for his alleged involvement in the fatal shooting of his wife 27 years ago. She died in Japan in 1982.

"Just before his suicide, Miura had been flown into Los Angeles, having failed to have the February arrest warrant revoked.

"When guards reportedly checked on Miura 10 minutes before he was found unconscious, they found nothing out of the ordinary. However, it is apparent that Miura was not being monitored closely enough.

"There is also the question of how far the LAPD was aware of Miura's state of mind at the time.

"The LAPD must disclose the circumstances immediately before and after Miura's suicide, and explain exactly how the chain of command worked at the holding center. The Japanese government should certainly insist on this.

"This has been an unusual case indeed.

"When Miura's wife was fatally shot in Los Angeles, Miura was at her side, and he, too, was injured. After his return to Japan, he was arrested by Tokyo's Metropolitan Police Department on suspicion of murder. Miura protested his innocence, but the Tokyo District Court found him guilty in 1994.

"However, because the prosecution could not pinpoint Miura's "accomplice who actually pulled the trigger," the appellate court reversed the lower court decision and found him innocent in 1998. The Supreme Court acquitted him in 2003.

"Five years later, however, the LAPD reopened the case and arrested Miura for alleged conspiracy to murder. Miura protested in vain that the arrest did not stand up to the law, and he reportedly told his close acquaintances that he would "fight it out in Los Angeles."

"So why did he commit suicide? We are really baffled. Surely, he had the option of presenting his argument in a U.S. court of law. Did he suddenly lose his nerve after more than seven months in detention? Or was his suicide his ultimate act of protest against his arrest? We will never know, of course, but the outcome could not have been more shocking and distressing.

"At the time of his arrest in February, it was speculated that the LAPD had obtained some new, damning evidence against him. If that was true, what was this evidence? If not, on what grounds were the U.S. investigators going to make the prosecution stick?

"With Miura dead, there will be no trial in Los Angeles. But we truly hope U.S. authorities will reveal what they knew while ensuring that the rights of all surviving individuals involved in this case are protected.

"The case will always be remembered as a media circus rather than a criminal investigation proper. It became fodder for weekly gossip magazines and TV entertainment shows, where innuendoes and groundless rumors trumped hard facts. Miura himself fired away a string of libel suits, many of which he won.

"Actually, the whole sordid mess served to jolt the mass media into re-examining its brand of "journalism."

"We still do not know who pulled the trigger that killed Kazumi. At this point, all we can hope for is that U.S. investigators will get to the bottom of what really happened. And we certainly do not want the truth to remain buried forever."

By Editorial (Asahi Shimbun, 10/15/2008), Link to article (last visited 10/15/2008)

※Miura's acquittal:
Tokyo District Court, Decision of 31 March 1994, Hanrei Jihou 1502-48.
Tokyo High Court, Decision of 1 July 1998, Hanrei Jihou 1655-3.
Supreme Court, Third Petty Bench, Decision of 5 March 2003.

1 comment:

leany said...

Miura arrived in Los Angeles on Friday after a trip from the U.S. commonwealth of Saipan, where he had been held since his February arrest on a 1988 Los Angeles County warrant alleging murder and conspiracy.