UTSUNOMIYA, Tochigi Pref. (Kyodo) Lawyers representing a man serving a life sentence for a 1990 murder that recent DNA tests indicate he may not have committed filed a complaint Monday with the Utsunomiya District Court over prosecutors’ reluctance to release him.
In the latest test results released in May, a DNA sample taken from Toshikazu Sugaya, 62, did not match dried bodily fluid found on the victim’s clothing, contradicting an earlier finding.
“Since it became clear that Sugaya is not the culprit, it is illegal to continue making him serve his sentence,” the lawyers said in a statement.
“The court should order the halt to the sentence as early as today,” one of the lawyers, Hiroshi Sato, said after submitting the complaint.
The latest tests were performed with the authority of the Tokyo High Court. Two experts, each recommended by both sides, performed the tests using different methods. Both showed there was no match between Sugaya’s DNA and the sample found on the victim’s clothing.
The lawyers filed a request May 19 with the Tokyo High Public Prosecutor’s Office to release Sugaya, who is serving his sentence in Chiba Prison.
According to the Code of Criminal Procedure, prosecutors can release prisoners who request a retrial. If the complaint by his lawyers is approved by the court, the court will thus order prosecutors to release Sugaya.
Both prosecution and defense will submit written opinions on the results of the new DNA tests to the high court by June 12.
Sugaya was arrested in 1991 for kidnapping and killing a 4-year-old girl in Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture, in 1990. He initially confessed to killing her but later withdrew the confession.
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