Inmate seeks retrial over ’66 murder

Kyodo

Defense lawyers for a former professional boxer on death row said they filed an appeal for a retrial with the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The Tokyo High Court rejected his request last week, they said.

Iwao Hakamada, 68, murdered a soybean-paste company executive, his wife and their two children in Shizuoka Prefecture in June 1966, set their house on fire and stole about 200,000 yen in cash. He was an employee of the company at the time.

Hakamada was arrested in August that year and allegedly confessed during a police interrogation. He later asserted his innocence in court, saying the confession was made under duress.

He made a plea for a retrial at the Shizuoka District Court in 1981. In 1994, the court turned down the request. He then brought the plea to the Tokyo High Court, along with new evidence. But the high court rejected the plea on Friday saying, “The evidence was not new or clear.”

At a news conference in Shizuoka, the lawyers said they cannot accept the high court’s ruling as it is against Article 37 of the Constitution, which stipulates the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial tribunal and be permitted full opportunity to examine all witnesses.