A traveling exhibition of paintings by the late Sadamichi Hirasawa, convicted for the 1948 “Teigin Incident” mass poisoning, opened at a Tokyo art gallery this week and his adopted son hopes it will stir interest in his request of for a retrial.

The exhibition marks the award-winning painter’s death of natural causes in May 1987 at the age of 95 in a prison hospital. He had been sentenced to death in 1950 for the murders.

Of the some 50 displayed works, seven were newly found at antique art shops and other places in Sapporo, Niigata and Tokushima, said Takehiko Hirasawa, 48. The exhibition also includes paintings Hirasawa did in prison.

“I hope visitors to the exhibition will be aware of the hopeless life of the falsely accused man through his paintings 20 years after his death,” Takehiko Hirasawa said.

The exhibition will be in Tokyo until Wednesday, then move on Sapporo in July and Otaru in August, the two Hokkaido cities where Hirasawa spent his youth.

He was a highly acclaimed tempera painter, but many of his prizewinning works were thrown out in the years after his arrest in 1948 as the owners did not want to have art by a murder suspect.

Takehiko Hirasawa hopes the exhibitions will not only increase public interest in the Teigin Incident but also in his father’s artistic career and lead to the discovery of more lost works.

In the notorious incident, a man robbed a Teikoku Bank branch in Tokyo on Jan. 26, 1948, by passing himself off a public health official. He gave the people in the bank a poisoned drink, telling them it was a remedy for dysentery. Twelve of the 16 staff and customers died.

Hirasawa was arrested for the murders and robbery seven months later. He was initially sentenced to death by the Tokyo District Court in 1950 and it was later finalized by the Supreme Court in 1955.

The 19th request for a retrial was filed with the Tokyo High Court on May 10, 1989. The court says it is still examining the request.

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