Tokyo, Jul 25 (EFE).- The sister of a Japanese inmate who spent the longest time on death row said she hopes his re-trial will serve to exonerate him and facilitate a legal change on this type of legal procedure, unusual in the country.
Hideko Hakamada, 90, and lawyer Hideyo Ogawa, who heads the defense of 87-year-old former-boxer Iwao Hakamada, appeared Tuesday at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, amid the repetition of the trial, ordered in March by a high court in the capital.
The decision came after the court found there was “an extremely high possibility that the prosecution fabricated the evidence” on which the death sentence was based.
Hakamada was sentenced to death in 1968 for murder two years earlier of the owner of the miso (fermented soybean) factory where he worked, his wife and his two children, after which the place was burned down.
Hakamada’s capital sentence was finalized in 1980 based on five bloody articles of clothing found in a miso tank 14 months after the murder, the remains of which matched the blood types of the victims and the defendant.
After almost 50 years in prison, the man was released in 2014 after a court analyzed new DNA evidence presented by his defense, which showed the blood present on the clothes was neither from the victims nor from Hakamada.
Both during the trial and during his 46 years in prison, Hakamada always pleaded not guilty and several humanitarian organizations said the investigation was shrouded in irregularities.
Hakamada, who suffers from mental illness due to his prolonged solitary confinement, said he was coerced by police to sign a statement acknowledging responsibility for the murder.
Asked about her brother’s state of health and spirits ahead of the retrial, expected to start in October or November, Hideko said they do not usually talk about it and that the aftermath of the experience has plunged her brother into an “illusory world” from which he has couldn’t get out.
“I think in his mind he is still on death row. He has been a huge source of concern and that is why I have worked hard to clear his name,” Hideko said Tuesday, adding that her brother’s pain “will never go away.”
“I don’t want these years to have been a waste of time and I want the case to contribute to repeat trials and a change in the legal framework in this regard,” she said, speaking about the more than half a century that she has been fighting for his exoneration.
Ogawa said she hopes prosecutors will try to present new evidence, although she is not sure what, given the lack of evidence so far. She also said she expects a “quick” not guilty verdict and exoneration for Iwao.
The defense will try to ensure that the court does not force the octogenarian to appear in the process, although they would like, if necessary, Iwao to be present if he is exonerated. EFE