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Prosecutors made a rare, but not face-to-face, apology Wednesday to a 62-year-old man freed last week from prison after being convicted of the 1990 murder of a 4-year-old girl in Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture, for which they now believe, based on a DNA retest, he did not commit.

“We are very sorry for indicting someone who is unlikely to have been the culprit and making him serve time in prison as a result,” Tetsuo Ito, deputy chief of the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office, said in a press conference.

Toshikazu Sugaya, who spent over 17 years serving a life sentence, was released from prison on June 4 after recent tests indicated his DNA did not match traces found on the murdered girl’s clothes, contrary to the initial test results that led to his conviction in the kidnapping and strangulation of Mami Matsuda.

“Police and prosecutors should apologize before my very eyes,” Sugaya said after learning of Ito’s apology. “I can never forgive them.”

Ito said he has instructed the Tokyo High Public Prosecutor’s Office to cooperate so Sugaya’s retrial can commence soon, the step needed to formally acquit him.

Sugaya has been demanding an apology from investigators and judges since his release, saying he wants his life back.

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