• Kyodo

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The Fukuoka District Court on Tuesday opened a judicial re-examination into the drug-smuggling conviction of a Korean resident who has insisted on his innocence, one year after his release from prison at the end of a 16-year sentence.

Kim Su Won, 61, a former moneylender from Iizuka, Fukuoka Prefecture, re-entered a plea of not guilty at the court, saying, “I have nothing at all to do with the case. In all truth, I am innocent.”

The judicial re-examination comes 19 years after Kim’s initial arrest and 15 years after the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal and upheld his 16-year prison sentence, which he served at Tokushima Prison in western Japan.

Kim, whose Japanese name is Kotaro Tendo, was arrested in July 1981 and indicted later that year on charges of smuggling with an accomplice a total of 4 kg of amphetamines from South Korea in October 1980 and June 1981. The alleged accomplice, who was also convicted in the case, has since died.

Kim’s conviction was partly based on the alleged accomplice’s testimony that he had smuggled drugs under Kim’s instructions and the top court ruled that the testimony was reliable when it rejected Kim’s appeal.

The alleged accomplice, however, told Kim’s lawyers in 1992 that his testimony was fabricated. The lawyers recorded the remarks and submitted the tape as evidence to the district court, demanding a re-examination of the case. The alleged accomplice died in October 1992.

The district court in April 1996 decided to re-examine the case. The Fukuoka District Public Prosecutor’s Office immediately filed a complaint with the Fukuoka High Court to nullify the district court’s decision.

The high court dismissed the prosecutors’ complaint in February this year. The prosecutors gave up appealing the dismissal in March.

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