JapanThe High Court today ordered a re-hearing of the famous “Hakamada Iwa Case”. Former professional boxer Hakamada Iwa, now 87, was sentenced to death for the murder some 60 years ago. He was released in 2014 after serving 48 years in prison. He is the longest serving death row prisoner in the world.
Agence France-Presse and Kyodo news agency reported that after a short court hearing, Hakamada Iwa’s appointed lawyers walked outside Japan’s High Court and unfurled a sign that read “The retrial begins”, and supporters cheered.
Hakamada Iwa’s sister Hideko said, “I waited for 57 years and finally this day has come. The burden is finally lifted off my shoulders.”
Hakamada Iwa was accused of murdering miso factory owner Hashimoto Fujio, Hashimoto’s wife, and their eldest son and second daughter in 1966. He was sentenced to death in 1968 for dacoity.
He initially denied having committed the crime, but later confessed to his crime. He later claimed that he was coerced into confessing by the police during interrogation under torture.
Hakamada Iwa tried to have the confession rescinded but to no avail, and the Supreme Court of Japan confirmed his death sentence in 1980.
After years of litigation, the Shizuoka District Court believed that the evidence may have been falsified. In 2014, it decided to reopen the case and release Hakamada Iwa. He had served 48 years on death row and was recognized as the longest serving death row convict in the world.
However, the Tokyo High Court overturned the District Court’s decision four years later and the case was appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court sent back in 2020High Courtretest.
The main evidence for Hakamada Iwa’s conviction was several pieces of blood-stained clothing, but this was only found in a miso barrel more than a year after the incident.
Supporters said that the size of the clothing did not match Hakamada Iwa’s size, and that the blood stains on the clothing were too bright considering the time that had passed.dnaThe identification results found that the Hakamada Iwa was not related to the clothes or the bloodstains.
Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported that Tokyo High Court Judge Yoshifumio today cast doubt on the credibility of the evidence.
The report quoted Daigen Fumio as saying that according to experimental results provided by the defense, “According to expert opinion and scientific estimates, blood stains will disappear after soaking in miso for more than one year, so It is reasonable to suspect that Hakamada was wearing these clothes when he committed the crime.”
He also said: “It is impossible to rule out the possibility that these clothes were hidden in a bucket by a third party long after the incident. In fact, the possibility of intervention by the searching agency is very high.”
Daizen Fumio also said that it was appropriate for him to continue “taking into account the possibility of innocence, the decision of the retrial, and Hakamada’s age and physical and mental condition”.
Supporters say that nearly half a century of incarceration, much of it in solitary confinement, and the stress of facing a possible execution have taken a toll on Hakamada’s mental state.
Amnesty International welcomed today’s High Court ruling, saying that Hakamada had finally received a “belated opportunity for justice”.
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