• Kyodo News


A man who was convicted for a 1990 murder on DNA evidence but recently freed by new DNA evidence made a joint appeal with lawyers Wednesday to have interrogations recorded in their entirety to prevent forced confessions.

“I think interrogations should be videotaped from the start and a third party should be allowed to view the contents,” said Toshikazu Sugaya, who spent 17 years in prison on a life sentence until a second, more advanced, DNA test contradicted the evidence used to link him to the murder of a 4-year-old girl in Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture.

Sugaya, 62, is scheduled for a retrial to clear his name. He said investigators interrogated him for about 13 hours and kept kicking him and pulling his hair, leading him to confess to a crime he said he never committed.

“I was just so scared of the investigators, I admitted the crime,” he said.

“Some say recording parts of interrogations will be sufficient for proving suspects confessed voluntarily, but looking at Mr. Sugaya’s case, we have to say that is insufficient,” said Japan Federation of Bar Associations President Makoto Miyazaki.

After the fresh DNA test effectively proved his innocence, Sugaya was released from Chiba Prison on June 4.

Police and prosecutors recently began partial recording of the interrogation process, but not from start to finish as the lawyers’ group is recommending.

Sugaya lawyer Hiroshi Sato said people were misled by the initial DNA test that “proved” Sugaya was the culprit.

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