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Ex-con’s retrial bid over girl’s ’86 murder refused

Kyodo

The Nagoya High Court on Wednesday turned down an appeal for a retrial filed by a 47-year-old man who served a seven-year prison term for the 1986 murder of a junior high school girl in Fukui Prefecture.

The counsel for Shoji Maekawa, who has always maintained his innocence, will appeal to the Supreme Court. The defendant had been acquitted in 1990 in his district court trial.

“Is this the court decision? I am dumbfounded,” Maekawa said after Wednesday’s ruling.

The ruling came after the Kanazawa Branch of the high court decided in November 2011 to reopen the case on grounds that “reasonable doubt” exists over whether Maekawa had killed Tomoko Takahashi, 15. It said changes in the depositions of acquaintances whose testimony was key to his conviction called into question their credibility.

The branch also said it was doubtful the victim’s stab wounds were created only by two knives as previously ruled, suggesting another weapon was used. The branch added that the size of some stab wounds appears to be smaller than the width of the two knife blades found in the kitchen of the victim’s home.

Although there was no direct evidence tying Maekawa to the murder, the prosecutors objected to the 2011 decision.

Presiding Judge Hiroshi Shida said Wednesday, “The changes in the depositions of the acquaintances could be explained in a reasonable manner, and they are fully trustworthy.”

  • Ian

    It is hard to believe in “justice” when Japan’s conviction rate is 99%