Death Penalty Sought Again For 88-year-old In Japan Murder Saga

Death penalty sought again for 88-year-old in Japan murder saga

Tokyo, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 22nd May, 2024) Japanese prosecutors again sought the death penalty in the retrial on Wednesday of an ex-boxer who was the world's longest-serving death row prisoner until his release in 2014.

Iwao Hakamada, now 88, spent 46 years on death row -- a stretch recognised by the Guinness World Records -- after being convicted in 1968 of murdering a family.

He was freed in 2014 and a retrial was ordered after a court said investigators could have planted evidence, sparking relief among his supporters who included other boxers and the rights group Amnesty International.

However, prosecutors argued at the retrial in Shizuoka, south of Tokyo, that Hakamada's guilt could be proven "beyond reasonable doubt", the Asahi Shimbun daily said.

Defence lawyers are seeking an acquittal for Hakamada, whose case has become a famous saga in Japan.

"I believe Iwao is innocent," his sister Hideko Hakamada, 91, said on Wednesday.

Prosecutors are only seeking the death penalty "as a matter of course" and "the defence team's rebuttal was so strong that I'm sure we'll be able to win," she told reporters.

The retrial began last year and the court is due to announce the verdict in late September.

Japan is the only major industrialised democracy other than the United States to retain capital punishment, which has broad public support.

Hakamada's supporters say his decades of detention, mostly in solitary confinement with the ever-present threat of execution, took a heavy toll on his mental health.

He said in a 2018 interview with AFP that he felt he was "fighting a bout every day".