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A recent court ruling that sentenced a man to life in prison for the 2005 kidnapping and murder of a 7-year-old girl in Tochigi Prefecture underlines the need for electronic recording of the entire interrogation process in criminal probes to avoid the risk of false charges and convictions. A bill requiring police and prosecutors to make their interrogation of suspects transparent by electronically recording the entire process is now before the Diet, but the scope of the cases for which such recording would be mandatory is limited and it would leave room for investigators to escape the obligation.

In the case of Takuya Katsumata, 33, found guilty of abducting and killing Yuki Yoshida in the Tochigi city then known as Imaichi in 2005, prosecutors lacked key material evidence linking him to the crime and relied on confessions made during interrogations to build their case. The Utsunomiya District Court on Friday gave him a life term as demanded by the prosecutors, judging his confession — which he reversed in court saying it had been coerced — to be credible enough to convict him. Katsumata’s defense plans to appeal.

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