Court says convicted murderer can file libel suits

The Supreme Court on reversed May 27 a lower court decision denying a convicted criminal the right to file libel suits against newspapers for stories that were published before a ruling on his murder case was handed down by the courts in 1994.

The No. 3 Petty Bench of the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Kazuyoshi Miura, a 49-year-old Tokyo businessman who was convicted of killing his third wife in Los Angeles in 1981 to receive insurance money. Miura has filed a libel suit against the Japanese magazine Sports Nippon for a Feb. 15, 1984, article alleging that he had consulted with friends about how to murder his wife. He is currently appealing his 1994 murder conviction.

The Tokyo District Court ordered the newspaper in March 1995 to pay 200,000 yen in damages to Miura, but the ruling was nullified by the Tokyo High Court, which ruled in October the same year that Miura’s conviction for murder invalidated his libel suit. Presiding Supreme Court Justice Hideo Chigusa on May 27 said that a criminal conviction does not invalidate the defendant’s right to sue for damages.