STORY: "Tapes point to police duress in miscarriage of justice," by reporter Shin Kasahara, published by The Asahi Shimbun, on December 22, 2016.
PHOTO CAPTION: "Defense lawyers representing one-time death row inmate Iwao Hakamada give a news conference in Tokyo on Dec. 21 to highlight their demand for an early retrial."
GIST: "Police records of interrogations that led to Iwao Hakamada being wrongfully convicted of multiple slayings show that the one-time death row inmate was not allowed to use the restroom as officers relentlessly tried to force him to confess. Just two days later, Hakamada, now 80, confessed to killing a family of four and setting fire to their home in Shizuoka Prefecture in 1966. A former professional boxer, Hakamada spent more than three decades on death row. He was released in March 2014 after the Shizuoka District Court ordered a retrial, having concluded that his conviction was likely based on faked evidence. Defense lawyers pressing for an early retrial presented documents to the Tokyo High Court on Dec. 21, highlighting apparent brazen violations of procedures during Hakamada's interrogation. The high court is weighing whether to hear Hakamada’s case. Prosecutors have appealed the district court decision. Hakamada, who is from Hamamatsu in the prefecture, had his death penalty finalized in 1980. Defense lawyers said 24 tape recordings of Hakamada being questioned were discovered at the police storage room in October 2014. The tapes recorded interrogations between his arrest on Aug. 18, 1966, and late September that year after he was indicted. The lawyers played the tapes to get a better grasp of how the interrogation was carried out. They said a session on Sept. 4 was particularly problematic as it appeared Hakamada was deprived of the use of restroom facilities, as he later testified in court. On the tape, an investigator trying to get him to confess, says, “It must be the case.” After more exchanges with the investigator, Hakamada says, “I would like to use the bathroom.” The investigator responds, “Why don’t you reply (to my question) before doing so?” Lawyers said the recording makes clear that Hakamada had to urinate inside the interrogation room. “Get a lavatory pan. Let him urinate here,” the interrogator is heard saying. During his trial at the Shizuoka District Court in December 1967, Hakamada testified that he was forced to urinate in the interrogation room. “I was not permitted to go to restroom on many occasions,” he said. “I was not permitted to do it properly.” The interrogator in question denied Hakamada’s account when he appeared in court as a witness in 1968.“There never was such a thing,” he said. The defense team also said that among the tapes were recordings of conversations between Hakamada and his lawyers, suggesting that the police eavesdropped on them. The lawyers argued that the investigators violated various laws in the course of establishing the case against Hakamada and during his trial. This, they said, was further ammunition for an early retrial. Forcing a suspect to urinate in the interrogation room constituted assault and cruelty by special pubic officers, and eavesdropping and recording interviews between defense lawyers and a client constituted an act of malpractice, they noted. They also noted that lying in court constitutes perjury."http://www.asahi.com/sp/ajw/articles/AJ201612220063.html
The entire story can be found at:
The entire story can be found at:
See comprehensive Wikipedia account at the link below: "Iwao Hakamada (袴田 巖 Hakamada Iwao?, born March 10, 1936) is a Japanese former professional boxer who was sentenced to death on September 11, 1968, for a 1966 mass murder that became known as the Hakamada Incident. On March 10, 2011, Guinness World Records certified Hakamada as the world’s longest-held death row inmate. In March 2014, he was granted a retrial and an immediate release when the Shizuoka district court found there was reason to believe evidence against him had been falsified.........Campaign for a retrial...After his appeal was denied in 1980, Hakamada obtained a new team of lawyers. In 1981, they filed a request for a retrial, asking for the physical evidence to be re-examined. In the investigation, it was determined the alleged murder weapon was the wrong size to produce the stab wounds, that a door supposedly used to enter the home was actually locked, and that the bloody pants were too small to have been worn by Hakamada. Backed by the Japanese Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA), Hakamada's lawyers concluded the first trial had failed to establish that any of the clothing belonged to him. After 13 years of gathering evidence, the request was heard and denied by the Shizuoka District Court on August 9, 1994. In 2000, an attempt was made to extract DNA from the bloody clothing, but available techniques did not allow for any to be detected. The Tokyo High Court upheld the retrial denial on August 27, 2004. In November 2006, 500 supporters including world champion boxers Koichi Wajima and Katsuo Tokashiki submitted letters to the Supreme Court asking for a retrial. In March 2007, Norimichi Kumamoto, one of the three judges who had originally convicted Hakamada, came out in support of Hakamada's innocence. He stated that he had doubted the authenticity of the confession and believed Hakamada to be innocent. However, he had failed to persuade his two more senior colleagues, resulting in the split judgment for conviction. He eventually resigned his position out of guilt for the conviction. The revelation came in spite of a strong tradition against revealing the discussions between judges, and it resulted in Kumamoto being highly criticized. "I’m glad I spoke up," he said. "I wish I had said it earlier, and maybe something might have changed." He tried to visit Hakamada in prison to apologize personally, but his request was denied. After Kumamoto's statement, a campaign to retry Hakamada gained momentum. Amnesty International and the Japan Pro Boxing Association led the cause. American boxer Rubin Carter, who served 20 years on murder charges that were eventually overturned, and British actor Jeremy Irons spoke out on Hakamada's behalf. A charity rally organized by the Pro Boxing Association attracted 1300 supporters. Kumamoto personally submitted a statement to the Supreme Court in support of a retrial. The high court elected to hear Hakamada's request in 2008. On March 25, 2008, the high court denied the request, stating that neither the original or new evidence provided any reasonable doubt of Hakamada's guilt. One of the boxer's lawyers, Hideyo Ogawa, said it was a regrettable "decision handed down without much thought". The JFBA called the decision an extremely deplorable miscarriage of justice.
In April 2010, 57 members of parliament formed the "Federation of Diet Members to Save the Condemned Iwao Hakamada." The group was chaired by Seishu Makino and included members of multiple political parties. They petitioned the Minister of Justice to introduce a moratorium on the execution of Hakamada. Also in 2010, director Banmei Takahashi released BOX: The Hakamada Case (BOX 袴田事件 命とは). The documentary film contrasts the lives of Hakamada and Kumamoto, focusing on Hakamada's interrogation and trial. The film concludes that Kumamoto was forced to "bury the truth" when it became obvious that the evidence was not sufficient to convict. The movie was nominated for the Grand Prix des Amériques at the Montreal World Film Festival.
Impact: When Kumamoto came out in support of Hakamada in 2007, it shocked the Japanese public, casting light on the usually secretive justice system. Hakamada's case caused people to question the validity of the death penalty and brought attention to what critics describe as "inhumane" elements of the Japanese justice system. In Japan, the police may interrogate a suspect for up to 23 days, and the suspect is not permitted to have a lawyer present during interrogation. Because a false confession could be obtained easily under such harsh conditions, and because it was legal before WWII for police to torture suspects in order to obtain a confession, Japanese criminal courts will admit a confession as evidence only when a secret known by the perpetrator of the crime is contained therein. Moreover, Japanese courts do not permit guilty pleas; and so, even if the accused declares guilt, the courts may find the defendant innocent if the confession of guilt is determined to be inadequate. In capital punishment cases, in order to rule out the possibility that police may have forced a confession, the secret must be something that the police investigation did not discover at the time of the confession. Moreover, supervision by the prosecutor, in order to maintain the record of investigation, is considered the cornerstone of validity of confession as evidence. Due to its reliance on confession as evidence and proof of guilt, Japanese police put enormous pressure on the suspect to confess a guilty secret as this kind of confession is regarded as strong as forensic evidence. The vast majority of miscarriage of justice cases, in Japanese capital punishment cases, involve police faking the investigative record to make it appear as if the suspect confessed certain guilty secrets, which only the perpetrator of the crime could have known and it later became apparent that the suspect was being forced to sign a completely blank confession paper which the investigative police filled in for their convenience. Amnesty International has featured Hakamada prominently in their campaign against the death penalty in Japan. Using his case and others, they argued "Japan's death row system is driving prisoners into the depths of mental illness". The JFBA said the case is an example of "a nest of unlawful interrogations" and called for reform, including video taping of all interrogations."
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/