Crime & Justice

Japan court acquits former nurse of murder after 12 years in prison

Tokyo, Mar 31 (efe-epa).- A Japanese nurse was on Tuesday acquitted of murder after she spent 12 years in prison for the 2003 death that a court said might have occurred due to natural causes,

Mika Nishiyama, 40, was exonerated by the District Court in Otsu, on the outskirts of the central city of Kyoto, in a fresh trial two and a half years after she completed her sentence.

Presiding Judge Naoki Onishi said there was “no foul play” in the incident and the 72-year-old patient could have died due to a “fatal irregular heartbeat” or other natural causes, local news agency Kyodo reported.

Nishiyama was convicted for the murder in 2005. The prosecution alleged that she had removed the respirator of the hospitalized patient.

She had admitted to the killing during police interrogation, although she retracted her confession, later on, alleging that she was coerced into making it.

The nurse had pleaded not guilty in the subsequent judicial proceedings but an Otsu court ruled that the confession was credible and sentenced her to 12 years in prison. Nishiyama was released in August 2017 after serving her sentence.

On Tuesday, the court said Nishiyama’s confession was unreliable as “her statements on a key point changed drastically” while noting that an investigator had taken advantage of her developing romantic feelings for him to coerce a confession that matched circumstantial evidence.

During the retrial, prosecutors did not challenge fresh evidence presented by the nurse’s defense team, including a doctor’s opinion that said arrhythmia could have been a possible cause of the patient’s death.

Nishiyama had sought a fresh trial in 2010 and in December 2017 the Osaka High court ordered that the case be reopened, citing fresh evidence that could prove that the patient may have died from natural causes.

The retrial began in February, almost a year after the Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s order of approving the reopening of the case. EFE-EPA


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