Iwao Hakamada is a 76 year old death row inmate at Tokyo Detention Center, who was convicted of the 1966 murder of a family of four, a crime he claims he did not commit. He has been held in confinement for over 45 years.
Recent developments have given Hakamada and his supporters a beacon of hope. The result of a DNA analysis on bloodstains found on a T-shirt came back. The T-shirt was claimed to have been worn by Hakamada at the time of the crime and was a crucial piece of evidence at the original trial. Although the stains on the right shoulder of the T-shirt were alleged to have come from him at the original trial, the new findings by DNA experts stated that the DNA type did not match his.
Supporters for Hakamada claim that this finding very well supports the long claimed theory: the main pieces of evidence were planted by the prosecution during his original trial. The prosecutors say they reserve comment until they finish analyzing results.
Hakamada was sentenced to death in 1968 by the Shizuoka district court. The main evidence against him were 1) his confession during investigation, obtained after 20 days of daily 12-hour interrogations, and 2) five pieces of blood-stained clothing found near the crime scene which the prosecution claimed Hakamada wore at the time of the crime. The clothing was found after the trial had started (14 months after the crime occurred) and their size did not even match Hakamada’s. These and other facts lead to a theory that the clothing was planted by the prosecution during the trial.
After the Supreme Court affirmed his death sentence in 1980, Hakamada’s lawyers filed a petition for retrial in 1981. The Shizuoka District Court rejected the petition in 1994. The appeal was also rejected by Tokyo High Court in 2004, and the Supreme Court also rejected the petition in 2008.
But it did not stop the Hakamada’s supporters. The lawyers filed a second petition for retrial in the Shizuoka District Court.
The District Court, in order to decide whether to grant the petition, commissioned a DNA analysis of five pieces of clothing last year. The analysis was conducted by two experts recommended by each side. The first results came back in December 2011. The expert for the petitioner showed that the victims’ blood DNA types were not found on any of the clothing. However, the expert for the prosecution concluded that the victims cannot be excluded as contributors.
Thus, the attorneys for Hakamada requested a second DNA comparison with Hakamada’s DNA type, and the above result was revealed last Friday (April 13th). The examination by prosecution’s expert was also revealed on April 16th. It stated that “there was no complete match of the DNA types”. (Read the latest news in Japanese here)
The attorneys for Hakamada claim that because the recent DNA analysis results suggest that the crucial evidence at the original trial was forged, the court should grant the petition for Hakamada’s retrial.
Hakamada is now suffering from mental illness, caused by years of solitary confinement and the constant fear of being executed.