• Kyodo

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A 63-year-old man acquitted of murder earlier this year filed a petition Wednesday with the Utsunomiya District Court seeking about ¥80 million in state compensation for the mental distress he suffered during the 17 1/2 years he was in prison.

In the petition, Toshikazu Sugaya, who was acquitted in a retrial for the 1990 murder of a 4-year-old girl in Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture, claimed, “I was forced to make a false confession, lose my job and live a painful life in prison. The distress I experienced is beyond your imagination.”

At a press conference, Sugaya said, “This is a closure of sorts for me. I feel relieved now.”

“I would like to use the money for a living,” he said, while adding that he will continue to work for people who have been falsely charged.

Under the criminal compensation law, a person who is acquitted is allowed to seek compensation from the government based on time served.

A court comes up with the amount of damages, which can range from ¥1,000 to ¥12,500 per day, depending on whether the investigators were at fault or how much psychological distress the person endured.

Sugaya was arrested in 1991 and his sentence was finalized in 2000. He filed for a retrial in 2002 that was later dismissed by an Utsunomiya court in 2008. the Tokyo High Court, however, upon receiving an appeal from his lawyers, presented fresh DNA test results in May 2009 that proved his innocence.

Sugaya was released from prison the following month and was officially acquitted in March this year.

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