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Home > Match Information > Prosecutors want death penalty in Hakamada’s retrial, defense calls for acquittal, ruling set on Sept. 26

Prosecutors want death penalty in Hakamada’s retrial, defense calls for acquittal, ruling set on Sept. 26

May 23, 2024 12:33 pm

  Prosecutors demanded the death penalty at Shizuoka District Court on May 22 in the retrial of Iwao Hakamada, whose death sentence was finalized in 1980 over a 1966 quadruple murder in the central Japanese city of Shizuoka.

(from L) ‘Free Hakamada’ movement members: Shu Boxing Gym head Osamu Matsuoka, Kawasaki Nitta Boxing Gym head Shosei Nitta and Kanagawa Atsumi Boxing Gym head Hidenobu Honda

The prosecutors said the 88-year-old Hakamada “committed the crimes” in their closing statements at the court. Hakamada, a former professional boxer, spent nearly 50 years behind bars but was released from the Tokyo Detention House in March 2014 under a Shizuoka district court ruling due to the defendants’ petition for retrial.

The prosecutors’ decision to argue for Hakamada’s conviction in the retrial runs counter to the opinions of the defense team, who had called for a swift acquittal as the investigative authority ‘’fabricated evidence’’ and asked for their apology (for Hakamada).

The retrial of Hakamada concluded on the day, and the ruling was set to be handed down on Sept. 26.

The prosecutors said, ‘’It was a cruel and brutal crime based on a strong murderous intention.’’ Though Hakamada was exempted from attending the retrial proceedings due to his deteriorated mental state after having been incarcerated for such a long period, ‘’that does not affect his sentencing as punishment should be decided based on his liability for the crime.’’

Though Hakamada was released in 2014, he has still been stigmatized as a death-row inmate. According to the then police, Hakamada stabbed to death four family members at a soybean paste shop on June 30, 1966 in Shizuoka Prefecture’s Shimizu Ward (now the city of Shizuoka) in an attempt to steal money, and then set fire to the shop after pouring gasoline on the bodies.

His retrial began last October after the Tokyo High Court reversed course and ordered the district court to retry him in March 2023, citing the unreliability of the main evidence used.

The main focal point between the defense and prosecution was the color of the blood-soaked five items of clothing, believed to be those of Hakamada as they were found in a miso tank a little more than a year after the murder case.

When they were found, the redness of the bloodstain was seen. But the defense argued about the color, saying it is impossible for those clothes to maintain redness as long as more than a year in the tank. They bloodstain should turn black. The defense said it had been fabricated by a third party shortly before the clothes were found, while the prosecution side maintained that redness can be retained based on its own experiments.

The high court said there was a strong possibility the five pieces of blood-stained clothing that Hakamada was alleged to have worn during the incident had been planted by investigators in the tank of miso soybean paste they were found in. 

In their closing statements, prosecutors said the clothes belonged to Hakamada, who was working as a live-in employee at the miso shop. The high court’s claim that the prosecution fabricated the evidence has “no reasonable grounds,” they said.

At the end of the retrial, Hideko Hakamada, a sister of Iwao Hakamada, entered the witness stand and said, ‘’I have been fighting for freeing my brother for 58 years. I am now 91-years-old and Iwao is 88. I am afraid we don’t have that much time left. It is hoped that my younger brother Iwao can spend his life humanly.’’

By the same token, one of the prosecutors read out a statement of a bereaved family member of the victims prior to the start of the prosecutors’ closing arguments, “I want the truth will be revealed. I hope the fact that four precious lives have been claimed is not forgotten.”

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