The death of an 86-year-old death row inmate at the Tokyo Detention House earlier this week was the result of inadequate medical care, the convict’s supporters said Thursday.

The inmate, who died early Wednesday, was identified as Tsuneki Tomiyama by his supporters. The Justice Ministry refused to give the man’s name, citing privacy concerns.

Tomiyama’s supporters told a news conference Thursday at the Tokyo District Court that they doubt the validity of detention house officials’ claim that he died of chronic kidney failure.

“Our doctor, who is an expert in kidney problems, said it is impossible for a patient undergoing dialysis to die of chronic kidney failure,” said supporter Koichiro Kinoshita.

Tomiyama was the nation’s oldest man on death row. He had been awaiting his execution for more than 26 years.

Tomiyama and his support group filed a clemency plea in December 2002 out of fear he might die while in detention.

According to his supporters, Tomiyama was moved to a prison hospital in December 2001 after his health deteriorated. Earlier this year, officials at the detention house said Tomiyama had high blood pressure, and suffered arteriosclerosis and renal insufficiency, they said.

Kinoshita quoted detention house officials as saying they would do their best to provide Tomiyama with proper medical treatment, but he questioned whether the prison hospital had the adequate facilities.

Tomiyama was sentenced to death in a murder-for-insurance case in 1963.

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