The Tokyo High Court decided Wednesday to question two of three defendants in a civil damages suit who were accused of murdering a 15-year-old girl in Saitama Prefecture in 1985, when they were minors.

The court is hearing a compensation suit filed by the parents of the girl. The suit was sent back to the high court in 2000 for retrial by the Supreme Court.

The testimony of the two defendants, both aged 30, will mark the first time that people have been subpoenaed as witnesses in an appellate court trial over a criminal case that they were involved in when they were minors.

The defendants will give testimony next Tuesday at oral proceedings in the high court, although it is uncertain whether their past admissions of guilt are credible.

In February 2000, the top court’s No. 1 Petty Bench reversed a 1994 Tokyo High Court ruling and remanded the damages suit to the high court for retrial, saying the high court’s ruling was flawed because it did not give a clear reason why the confessions of the three accused were reliable.

The three youths, who were in their midteens at the time of the crime, were sent to a juvenile training school. Their lawyers have maintained the youths’ innocence throughout the civil suit, filed by the girl’s parents in 1989.

During the trial, defense lawyers pointed out that the AB blood type identified from hair and bodily fluid found on the victim did not match any of the blood types of the accused.

They also argued that the teenagers’ confessions to the murder were unreliable and were later recanted.

The girl’s body was found July 19, 1985, in Soka, Saitama Prefecture. Police arrested six boys aged between 13 and 15, including the three, as suspects in the case.

The Urawa Family Court tried the case and ordered that five of the boys in question be sent to juvenile training school.

The ruling was appealed and eventually made it to the Supreme Court, which supported the family court’s decision in July 1989. The sixth boy was sent to a separate facility because he was younger than the others.

The compensation suit, filed with the Urawa District Court, demanded 55 million yen in damages from the parents of the three, claiming the trio were the ringleaders of the murder.

The district court rejected the compensation demand in March 1993, ruling that the defendants were not responsible for the murder. However, the high court overturned that ruling in November 1994, saying the boys’ confessions were reliable.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.