TOKYO — A bartender testified at the Tokyo High Court on Tuesday in an appeals hearing of a former Yokosuka Naval Base civilian who was found guilty of causing the death of a Japanese man outside a Yokosuka bar.

Sayuri Ishii testified that she saw Robert Burns Nolan, 55, push Katsumi Nakagawa, 70, on the night of Nov. 2, 2006, but she doesn’t remember when the push occurred or how hard the push was.

Yokohama District Court in Yokosuka found Nolan guilty of “bodily injury resulting in death” in September and sentenced him to three years in prison, but suspended the sentence for five years.

The conviction stemmed from a confrontation between Nolan and Nakagawa, who was intoxicated at the time.

Both were at Live Bar Buzz, near Yokosuka Naval Base.

Witnesses said Nakagawa was rowdy and wouldn’t leave the bar. The judge said Nolan “pushed” Nakagawa out of the establishment and that Nakagawa tripped and fell on the pavement.

A passerby later called an ambulance, but Nakagawa died four days later at a Yokosuka hospital.

Nolan’s defense attorney, Shunji Miyake, contends Nolan “touched” Nakagawa while trying to exit the bar quickly to avoid trouble.

This discrepancy is one of the grounds for the appeal, Miyake told Stars and Stripes.

The other is to refute previous testimony that Nolan had any “ownership interest” in the bar, he said, explaining this speaks to Nolan not having an intention to kick Nakagawa out.

However, Ishii told the court that she thinks Nolan is the owner.

“The last owner said a new owner will be coming. I didn’t know who it was but it was Bob who came, so I assumed it was him,” Ishii said.

But she said she never received her pay from Nolan, but from another person whose name she did not know.

It is a violation of U.S. Forces Japan directives for status of forces agreement personnel to have any role in the sale or service of alcoholic beverages to the Japanese public.

Nolan was scheduled to testify on Tuesday, but since Ishii’s questioning took longer than scheduled, he will take the stand May 20 at 3:20 p.m.

The three-judge panel said it hoped to conclude the hearing on that day.

Nolan is a former GS-14 human resources director for Commander Naval Forces Japan.

Nolan’s SOFA status will continue until the appeal is resolved.

Stars and Stripes reporter Allison Batdorff contributed to this report.

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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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