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A court decision last week to reopen a 1985 murder trial in Kumamoto Prefecture makes yet another case for requiring prosecutors to disclose all evidence in criminal trials, given the risk that selective use of evidence by investigation authorities can result in wrongful convictions. Koki Miyata, now 83, served 13 years in prison. He is only the latest among people whose guilt for crimes was thrown in doubt by a piece of evidence withheld by the prosecution until after they were convicted and only made open in the process of reopening their cases.

In the absence of material evidence that he killed a man in January 1985, the key to Miyata’s conviction was the confession he made to interrogators. Though he withdrew his confession halfway through the trial and pleaded innocent, the Kumamoto District Court in 1986 gave him 13 years in prison, judging that his confession was voluntary and credible — a decision finalized by the Supreme Court in 1990.

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