JIADEP Note: Materials related to the conviction of Rosal M. Villanueva, a Filipina national convicted or murdering her live-in partner. Held illegally for ten days, not under arrest, she confessed to a crime which occurred while she was at a hospital visiting her sick daughter. Ultimately she was convicted based on a whimsical coroner's report which was contorted to the fit police prescription. Rosal was sentenced to 8 years in prison, the absolute minimum for homicide, judicial deference to the prosecution. Let it be known that the powers that be sat 3 prosecutors in this case, a number almost unknown in modern criminal cases.

Rosal was released from the Chiba women's prison and has returned to the Philippines. She continues to illuminate and shine light upon all who come into her path.



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2002/09/13


A Monument to Judicial Idiocy Japan Today Peter Hadfield

We all know that the wheels of Japanese justice move in mysterious ways — to which must now be added bizarre, contradictory and whimsical. Last week a ruling was handed down that was absurd even by traditional standards. Rosal Villanueva Manalili, a Filipina found guilty of murdering her partner five years ago, had her guilty verdict confirmed by an appeal court. That sounds very simple, but the ruling was not. Rosal's initial conviction depended almost entirely on her confession to police, since there was no evidence whatsoever that she had committed the crime. So during the lengthy appeal Rosal's lawyers sought to prove that the confession had been coerced. They showed how the police had illegally detained Rosal in a variety of locations, questioned her endlessly, denied her access to a lawyer, and finally extracted a confession under extreme duress. Quite rightly, the judge agreed, and threw out the confession. But he did not throw out the case. Even without a motive, evidence or now even a confession the judge still concluded that Rosal probably did it, based on ideas of his own that were not even presented by the prosecution. Given the mountain of evidence that very clearly points to her innocence, such a judgment stands as a monument to judicial idiocy. At 11 p.m. on the night of the murder in November 1997, Vilanueva had left her Matsudo City apartment, where the murder later took place, to watch over her asthmatic daughter at a nearby hospital (as the duty nurse testified.) At 8 a.m. she returned home, but soon afterwards ran back to the hospital in great distress. She told staff she had found the body of her boyfriend, stabbed to death. A coroner later established that Hideyuki Takahashi had received around 80 stab and slash wounds inflicted with a knife, and 30 bruises. Since there was no evidence against Rosal, police could not obtain an arrest warrant, so instead they detained her illegally for nine nights and 10 days, ceaselessly pressuring and questioning. Under such pressure Rosal told them whatever they wanted to hear. But the confession simply did not fit the evidence. During an autopsy the coroner recorded Takahashi's death as between 2.15 and 5.16 a.m. Two defense coroners agreed, with a spread of opinion between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. — all times when witnesses said Rosal was at the hospital without a break. The only way to get a murder conviction was to change the time of death. Which, of course, the coroner did. He claimed that a transcription of his original examination (recorded on tape) was wrong, and that he had actually placed the time of death at 9.16 p.m. the previous evening. The only way to check this was to listen to the original recording, which was now crucial evidence. But the police said they had destroyed the tape — along with the only copy. Despite this deliberate destruction of evidence, there was plenty of other evidence exonerating Rosal. For example, how could a small woman launch such a frenzied attack without getting a single visible splash of blood on her clothing? Even the prosecutors had to stretch their imaginations for this one. Rosal, they argued, had stabbed her victim from a distance. In the end the judge did not even consider this a very relevant point. He simply ignored it. He also threw out Rosal's forced confession and the ruling from the first trial. His belief in her guilt seems to be based purely on his own conclusion about the time of death, which he says gave Rosal the opportunity to murder Takahashi. Not the means, not the motive, just the opportunity. Once someone has been chosen as a suspect in a murder case, then any rationale can be used to keep him or her in prison, even in the face of illegally extracted confessions, destroyed evidence and absence of proof. Yet the Rosal case has exposed such absurdities in the judicial system that even the Japanese media are sitting up and taking notice. This Saturday TV Asahi (Scoop 21) is airing a program about Rosal; one that it broadcast last year while her appeal was being heard. According to a support group, Rosal may now take her fight all the way up to the Supreme Court. Will the justices see sense? Or, like the courts that preceded them, will they believe a load of nonsense?
Japan Today September 13, 2002