Thompson chides court during wife's testimony in Okinawa trial
NAHA, Okinawa — A former Marine and base exchange car salesman accused of two rapes publicly criticized the court proceedings for the first time since his October arrest.
Dag Allen Thompson, 31, addressed the three-judge panel for only the second time since his trial began in January after prosecutor Mamoru Yamatoya repeatedly questioned Thompson’s wife while she sat on the witness stand, despite her steadfast refusal to answer.
Japanese law allows a spouse not to answer a question that could incriminate the spouse’s partner.
However, the court didn’t allow Naoko Thompson to refuse all questions at once; instead, she was required to state her refusal after each question was asked, argued by both attorneys and ruled on by Naha District Court Chief Judge Nobuyuki Yokota.
This prompted Thompson to stand up during the prosecutor’s questioning and address the judges.
“Is it normal to refuse the right to remain silent, just as was done to me?” Thompson asked. “ … I feel this court is pressuring her.”
Despite objection by defense attorney Toshimitsu Takaesu, the prosecution continued its examination.
“The decision [on the right to refuse] should be made in regard to each and every question,” Yamatoya said.
During the defense’s examination, Naoko Thompson said the prosecutor didn’t properly inform her during a police interrogation that she had the right to refuse to answer questions.
“All I wanted was to help my husband. If I told them everything, I thought they would understand the situation” and clear up any misunderstandings, she said.
The wife also allowed police to question the couple’s children, aged 6 and 9, shortly after the arrest.
Dag Thompson has not been allowed to visit his wife or children since that October 2004 arrest. Takaesu asked the court to end the “inhumane restriction.” The court is expected to rule later on the request but after Tuesday’s court session, Takaesu said if it’s denied, he would appeal that ruling to a higher court.
Thompson is charged with burglary and rape in connection with a 2004 incident in Chatan and a 1998 incident in Naha. He has remained mostly silent throughout the trial, refusing to answer questions from the judges and from his own defense counsel.
At previous hearings, the woman involved in the Chatan incident testified that she was asleep in her sister’s bed when someone disturbed her in the early morning hours of Aug. 22, 2004.
She said she at first thought the man was her sister’s boyfriend but when he refused to stop, she shined a cell-phone light in his face. Thompson later was identified from a police sketch.
In the Naha incident, a woman testified that a bleeding Caucasian man raped her on her sofa at 5 a.m. Later, through a one-way mirror at a Naha police station, she identified the man as Thompson.