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Hanged man maintained innocence to the end

Kyodo

Michitoshi Kuma, who was hanged in 2008 for the kidnapping and killing of two girls in Fukuoka, argued his innocence right up until his execution.

Kuma continued to assert his innocence even after his death sentence was finalized in 2006, saying “the truth will come to light,” and expressing hope that his trial would be reopened.

To fulfill his last wish, Kuma’s wife filed a request for a retrial in 2009.

However, the Fukuoka District Court, where the petition was filed, decided not to reopen the case.

According to the rulings, Kuma was convicted of abducting two 7-year-old girls on their way to school on Feb. 20, 1992, strangling them in a car and dumping their bodies in the mountains in Iizuka, Fukuoka Prefecture.

In an interview with Kyodo News in August in that year, before he was arrested on suspicion of abandoning the bodies, Kuma denied any involvement in the incident, saying, “I have never been to the site.”

He also told reporters he did not have any prior history of misconduct toward girls or young children, and had never been subject to any rumors about involvement in any such misconduct.

“I have never given a ride to any girl in my car when I was driving alone,” Kuma said.

Kuma also explained how he was being interrogated by police, said he took a polygraph test, and clearly expressed his intention to prove himself innocent.

“I won’t give up fighting,” he said. “I haven’t said anything but the truth.”

Kuma pleaded not guilty during the trial, but both the Fukuoka District and High courts sentenced him to death. The decision was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2006, paving the way for the death penalty to be finalized.

In his response to a 2008 questionnaire on death row inmates by a civic group calling for ratification of the international agreement on the abolition of death penalty, Kuma said he would keep “thrusting my ‘no’ against the nation’s judicial system that shamelessly declared a death sentence on an individual, without any direct evidence to prove his guiltiness.” “There is only one truth. I am not guilty,” he wrote.