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High court to verify DNA test in Hakamada murder case

Kyodo

A Japanese high court plans to conduct an experiment to see if it is possible to replicate DNA test results that were the basis of a lower court’s decision to reopen a 1966 murder case and free Iwao Hakamada, who spent decades on death row, his defense team said Thursday.

Prosecutors appealed the March 2014 decision by the lower court to reopen his case given the new DNA test results presented by Hakamada’s defense team. The results showed that blood stains on five items of clothing said to be worn by the murderer did not match Hakamada’s blood.

In 1968, Hakamada, a former professional boxer, was sentenced to death over the killing in 1966 of four members of a family in Shizuoka Prefecture. The Shizuoka District Court decided to reopen the case and suspend his execution and detention. Prosecutors appealed the decision.

The Tokyo High Court revealed its plan to conduct the experiment at a meeting Thursday with prosecutors and lawyers.

The method by which the DNA was taken from the clothing, found over 40 years ago, has been the center of a dispute before the high court. Prosecutors have argued they could not, in their experiment, extract DNA using the defense team’s method and it “cannot be scientifically trusted.”

Earlier, the high court proposed the DNA test results should be verified by a third party. But defense lawyers argued such verification is “not necessary.”