Iwao Hakamada: Japan’s high court docket offers retrial hope for man who spent virtually 50 years on dying row


Former skilled boxer Iwao Hakamada — declared the world’s longest-serving dying row inmate by Guinness World Data in 2014 — was accused of theft, arson and the homicide of his boss, his boss’ spouse and their two youngsters in 1966. The household was discovered stabbed to dying of their incinerated residence in Shizuoka, central Japan.

Hakamada initially admitted to all costs earlier than altering his plea at trial. He was sentenced to dying in a 2-1 choice by judges, regardless of repeatedly alleging that police had fabricated proof and compelled him to admit by beating and threatening him.

In 2014, in a uncommon reversal for Japan’s inflexible justice system, the Shizuoka District Court docket ordered a retrial and freed Hakamada on the grounds of his age and fragile psychological state. However 4 years later, the Tokyo Excessive Court docket scrapped the request for a retrial, for causes it could not verify to CNN.

Hakamada’s protection group then appealed to the Supreme Court docket.

“We have been afraid that Hakamada might be redetained at any second and given the dying penalty. However at the least now, with the hope of a retrial, we all know he’s secure,” mentioned Kiyomi Tsunagoe, a lawyer on Hakamada’s protection group, on Thursday.

Tsunagoe added that Hakamada’s case will return to the Tokyo Excessive Court docket for contemporary deliberation — though a retrial remains to be not assured, and the protection group is now awaiting the excessive court docket’s response. Tsunagoe mentioned it was unclear when this may come.

Japan places far fewer folks in jail than most developed international locations: 39 per 100,000 folks, in contrast with 655 in america and 124 in Spain, in accordance to the World Jail Transient web site.
However the nation is understood to have a inflexible felony justice system, with a 99.9% conviction price. Based on a 2019 report launched by the Cupboard Workplace, 80% of individuals surveyed additionally supported the dying penalty.

Hakamada’s sister, Hideko Hakamada, has maintained her brother fell sufferer to “hostage justice,” when police allegedly strip suspects of their proper to stay silent and coerce them to admit.

Iwao Hakamada leaves a Tokyo detention center in 2014 after 48 years on death row.

Hakamada now lives along with his sister in Hamamatsu metropolis, Shizuoka prefecture. Although he’ll possible by no means return to full psychological well being, Hideko Hakamada instructed CNN in March that her brother’s situation was bettering, and he had misplaced a limp that he developed whereas on dying row.

In contrast to within the US the place execution dates are set upfront, death-row prisoners in Japan are executed in secret, with no advance warning given to the inmate, their household or authorized representatives, in response to Amnesty Worldwide.

Prisoners usually solely study of their execution hours earlier than it is resulting from happen. Authorities say this happens “out of consideration that an advance discover would disturb the inmate’s peace of thoughts and may trigger additional struggling.”

Often, inmates should be executed inside six months of their sentencing listening to. However Tsunogae says this not often occurs, and plenty of find yourself ready years.

Capital punishment is normally reserved for many who have dedicated a number of murders. All executions are carried out by hanging.

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