Before the lay judge system was introduced in May, Japanese courts adopted pretrial procedures to enable the prosecution, the defense counsel and the court to narrow down evidence and points of argument in a case to speed up criminal trials. A recent Supreme Court ruling shows its determination in getting these procedures to take root.

On Oct. 16 the Supreme Court sent back to the Hiroshima High Court the case of a Peruvian man charged with sexually assaulting and murdering a 7-year-old girl in Hiroshima in November 2005. The Hiroshima District Court had spent two months on pretrial procedures and had conducted intensive deliberations during five straight days of hearings. Some 50 days after the first hearing, it sentenced the man to life in July 2006.

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