Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Bulletin: Iwao Hakamada; Japan; Prosecutors oppose retrial that would formally clear him after four decades on death row - and appeal the court decision which freed him on basis prosecutors likely used fabricated evidence to convict him of murder in 1968. Asahi Shimbun.

 STORY: "Lawyers: Prosecutors appeal exacerbates Hakamada's suffering," published by the Asahi Shimbun on April 1, 2014.

GIST: "Defense lawyers lambasted prosecutors for opposing a retrial for a multiple-murder case from the 1960s, saying the move will only prolong the suffering of an innocent man who spent decades on death row. Iwao Hakamada, 78, was released March 27 after the Shizuoka District Court said prosecutors likely used fabricated evidence to convict the former professional boxer of murder in 1968. The court ordered a retrial and said Hakamada should be found not guilty However, the Shizuoka District Public Prosecutors Office argued that the court’s decision was itself based on shaky evidence. The office filed an appeal against the retrial order and sought a reinstatement of Hakamada’s death sentence.  Hakamada’s defenders said prosecutors simply want to postpone a chance for the former convict to clear his name.........During the trial that started in the 1960s, prosecutors argued that blood on five items of clothing found a year after the killings was Hakamada’s, and that he had worn those clothes when he killed the family. But the March 27 ruling said DNA tests indicated the blood was neither Hakamada’s nor members of the slain family. “It is suspected that investigative agencies fabricated key evidence,” the ruling said.  Shizuoka prosecutors contend in the appeal that the amount of analyzed DNA was too small to obtain reliable test results. They also insist the DNA had been fragmented and degraded over the years.  The appeal denounced the court ruling as “a mistaken one issued based on unreasonable, unfair grounds.” It also says the assumption that police faked evidence lacked supportive evidence......... Whatever decision the Tokyo High Court makes, either prosecutors or Hakamada’s lawyers are expected to file a special appeal to the Supreme Court, which would add more time before a possible retrial starts. A third-party lawyer said prosecutors should not have filed the complaint against the court’s retrial order, considering Hakamada’s long years in prison. “It has been 48 years since he was arrested,” said Masaru Wakasa, a former deputy head of the special investigation team at the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office. “Judicial justice lies in coming to a conclusion as early as possible. “Prosecutors should make their point in the proposed retrial if they have something to argue instead of filing an immediate appeal.”

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