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Prosecutors in Japan to pursue retrial of world’s longest-serving death row inmate
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Prosecutors in Japan to pursue retrial of world’s longest-serving death row inmate

Prosecutors in Japan will be working on the retrial of an 87-year-old former boxer – who is known as the world’s longest-serving death row inmate – nearly six decades after he was sentenced of murder, an official conveyed on Monday. The decision is declared after Tokyo’s High Court in March ordered the retrial of Iwao Hakamada, in what his supporters saw as a long-awaited first step towards his acquittal. Prosecutors told Shizuoka District Court on Monday they will be exploring the new trial and seek a guilty verdict, an official in the prosecutor’s office told AFP. Lawyers for Hakamada told reporters that they were “upset because of the prosecutors”, Kyodo News reported.

The prosecutors’ pursuit of a conviction could result in a lengthy trial. No date has been declared. Hakamada spent around five decades on death row, and was certified the world’s longest-serving death row inmate, before a lower court ordered a retrial and let him free whilst his case was going on. He was convicted to demise in 1968 for stealing and killing his boss, the man’s wife and their two teenage children. Hakamada previously refused to admit that he did the crimes. His efforts to retract the confession were useless and his verdict was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 1980.

After a very long battle, a district court in the central city of Shizuoka gave a retrial in 2014, discovering investigators could have planted proof. But Tokyo’s High Court overturned the lower court in power four years later, and the case was referred to the Supreme Court on appeal. There, judges who were in power in 2020 that the Tokyo High Court must re-evaluate its decision. The High Court order for a retrial reportedly cast scepticism on the validity of one prominent piece of proof used to convict Hakamada – a set of blood-stained clothes that came more than a year after the crime. “There is no proof other than the clothes that could determine Hakamada was the perpetrator, so it is crystal clear that reasonable doubts come around,” national broadcaster NHK quoted the presiding judge as saying at the time.