UTSUNOMIYA, Tochigi Pref. (Kyodo) A man who spent 17 years in prison after apparently being wrongfully convicted of murdering a 4-year-old girl in 1990 in Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture, pleaded not guilty as his retrial began Wednesday and called for clarifying the truth behind the accusation that led to his conviction.

“I didn’t kill Mami Matsuda. The true culprit is someone else,” Toshikazu Sugaya, 63, said at the Utsunomiya District Court. “I’ve been suffering for 17 1/2 years. I call for a verdict of acquittal in which the whole truth is clarified.”

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