Hakamada appeal bid buttressed by DNA test

Kyodo

DNA analysis of a blood-stained shirt believed to have been worn by the killer of a family of four in 1966 has not found any genetic material from the man convicted of the crime, his lawyers said Monday.

The blood on the shirt was believed to have come from Iwao Hakamada, 76, after he allegedly sustained injuries to his right shoulder at the time of the crime.

But the results of the latest DNA test, commissioned by prosecutors, undermines the evidence linking him to the murders and will strengthen the retrial argument that he was wrongfully accused.

Hakamada, a former professional boxer, was sentenced to death in 1968 by the Shizuoka District Court for the slayings of an executive of a miso maker he was employed by, the executive’s wife and their two children, in Shizuoka Prefecture in a trial that became known as the “Hakamada Case.”

The crucial evidence was five pieces of clothing, including the shirt, found at the company’s plant more than a year later.

In the second appeal for a retrial filed with the district court by Hakamada’s sister, his lawyers said in December that their own DNA analysis showed that the victims’ DNA was not found on the five items.

This time, an examiner for the prosecutors examined whether the blood on the shirt came from Hakamada.

“At present, we cannot determine if the blood on the right shoulder of the shirt is that of Hakamada,” said Yuichiro Chiba, deputy chief prosecutor in the Shizuoka District Public Prosecutor’s Office.