Author Archives: Kana Sasakura

First Execution This Year in Japan

The first execution in 2014 was carried out on June 26 in Japan. This was the 9th execution under the Abe administration. Many organizations, including Japan Federation of Bar Associations, EU and Amnesty International , immediately filed a statement opposing the execution.

From the Japan Times:

Man who killed three, including kids, hanged
by Tomohiro Osaki

Brushing aside renewed public concerns over capital punishment, the government executed a 68-year-old death row inmate Thursday morning for three “brutal” and “selfish” murders committed seven years ago. Two of the victims were children.

In November 2007, Masanori Kawasaki sneaked into the Kagawa Prefecture home of Keiko Miura, his 58-year-old sister-in-law, and stabbed her multiple times. He also knifed to death the victim’s two grandchildren, Akane Yamashita, 5, and Ayana, 3. Kawasaki then buried their bodies nearby.

The Supreme Court finalized his death penalty in July 2012.

Thursday’s execution comes as public concern over capital punishment flared anew in March after the release of Iwao Hakamada, the world’s longest-serving death row inmate, upon a review of the DNA evidence that found Hakamada spent nearly five decades behind bars for murders he almost certainly didn’t commit.

Japan and the United States are the only Group of Eight industrialized nations that put people to death.

At a news conference after the hanging, Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki condemned Kawasaki’s deeds as “brutal” and “driven by selfish reasons,” noting the killings left kin grief-stricken to an “unimaginable degree.”

As he did following previous executions, Tanigaki defended the hanging as the outcome of “careful scrutiny.”

“We went over his case repeatedly before greenlighting his hanging,” Tanigaki said.

Of the 129 inmates now on death row, 89 are seeking retrials and 24 amnesty.

When asked to comment on the timing of the hanging, Tanigaki declined to elaborate.

“As justice minister, I consider it my highest priority to do everything in my capacity to confirm if an individual really committed the deed they are held culpable for” to avoid wrongful executions, he said.

Tanigaki added that he doesn’t think the capital punishment system needs to be reviewed at this time.

Human rights group Amnesty International was quick to express outrage, saying the hanging ignored the global community’s calls on Japan to end the “dehumanizing” practice.

Regarding the Hakamada incident, the group said the government is deeply reproachable for leaving him exposed to the terror of a looming execution for nearly five decades despite “extremely high odds of his innocence.”

“The government should take this fact seriously and do its utmost to overhaul the current criminal justice system. And as a first step for that, we believe it’s imperative capital punishment be suspended immediately,” the group said, adding that few details of the death penalty are disclosed to the public. The Japan Federation of Bar Association, too, issued a statement demanding capital punishment be halted and more information be disclosed to the public to spur a robust debate on the issue.

Continue reading

An Exoneree’s Veritas Against Wrongful Convictions

From Exoneree Fernando Bermudez:

NY Exoneree, Fernando Bermudez, visited Harvard Law School April 17, 2014, as part of a Prison Studies Project sociology class entitled, “From Plantations to Prisons”.

Speaking in a packed room to standing ovation, Bermudez discussed his unjust conviction and his struggle against Post Traumatic Stress Disorder while reflecting on his fight to prevent wrongful convictions through best practices and accountability. However, Mr. Bermudez and his wife also consider their social justice work a family affair. “Bringing our children to some of my lectures allows them to better understand the consequences of wrongful convictions while encouraging their work to reduce this human rights problem,” Bermudez says. “Nor does it hurt that exploring colleges and universities with them enhances their future academic options.”

Mr.Bermudez served over 18 years in New York State maximum security prisons following his wrongful conviction in the shooting death of Raymond Blount in 1991. He was found actually innocent based on police and prosecutorial misconduct in late 2009 with assistance from pro bono attorneys from Washington, D.C., New Jersey and New York.
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Breaking News: Court Decides to Reopen Hakamada Case

Previous posts on Hakamada case here and here.

This is a case from 1966. Iwao Hakamada has been held in confinement for 48 years. He is at Tokyo Detention Center, on death row.

Shizuoka District Court granted Hakamada’s petition for retrial today, saying that a new DNA testing result indicates that one crutial piece of evidence did not come from Hakamada.

It is the 6th time since 1945 that the courts grant a retrial in a death penalty case. However, the prosecutors still have a chance to appeal the decision.

PostScript:
Iwao Hakamada was released from the Tokyo Detention Center at around 17:20 JST on March 27th, 2014.

From Mainichi Shimbun News:
Court decides to reopen 1966 murder of 4

SHIZUOKA, Japan (Kyodo) — The Shizuoka District Court decided Thursday to reopen a high-profile 1966 murder case in which a former professional boxer has been on death row for more than 30 years for killing four people.

The court also decided to suspend the death penalty for Iwao Hakamada, 78, who was convicted of murdering Fujio Hashimoto, 41-year-old managing director of a soybean processing firm, his wife and their two children and setting fire to their home on June 30, 1966, in Shimizu city, Shizuoka Prefecture, which is now a part of Shizuoka city, as well as his detention.

During the petition for a retrial, his defense lawyers obtained DNA test results that indicated the DNA-type from blood stains detected on five pieces of clothing, which were said to have been worn by the culprit, is different from Hakamada’s.

Accepting the argument, Presiding Judge Hiroaki Murayama said, “The clothes were not those of the defendant,” indicating the possibility that investigators had fabricated the evidence.

Murayama also said, “It is unjust to detain the defendant further, as the possibility of his innocence has become clear to a respectable degree.”

It is the sixth time in postwar Japan that a court has approved a retrial for a defendant for whom capital punishment had been finalized. Of the other five, four were acquitted.

Hakamada, a live-in employee at the soybean processing firm, temporarily admitted to the charges after being arrested in August 1966, but changed his plea to one of innocence from the first court hearing.

Despite his plea, the Shizuoka District Court sentenced him to death in 1968, with the sentence finalized by the Supreme Court in 1980.

He filed his first appeal for a retrial in 1981, which was rejected by the top court in 2008, prompting his sister Hideko, 81, to file a second appeal immediately.

Despite the district court decision, it may still take time before a retrial can begin as prosecutors, who argued that the reliability of the DNA test is low, are expected to appeal the decision to the Tokyo High Court.

The defense team has urged prosecutors not to appeal, given that Hakamada’s mental state has deteriorated during almost 50 years in prison. Amnesty International Japan also issued a statement seeking the immediate start of a retrial, saying, “It is not too much to say that the unfair, long-time detention of a death row inmate is torture.”

After hearing the decision, Hideko said, “I am truly thankful,” while Katsuhiko Nishijima, who heads the defense team, said, “Mr. Hakamada’s strong desire has finally been attained.”

Continue reading

Breaking Chains in France

ImageFrom  NY exoneree, Fernando Bermudez:

 
        There’s a little known fact about the Statue of Liberty: broken chains around the statue’s ankle symbolize the historical fact that America broke free from British oppression and the tyranny of the king to establish a democratic republic.
 
        For me, my recent lecture in France symbolizes broken chains upon my exoneration in 2009 after over 18 years in 7 maximum security prisons in New York state. Like my lectures throughout Italy, Germany, Japan and America, I expose the consequences of wrongful convictions to help prevent their harm. Besides lending my life passion and purpose this also eases – stage fright, be damned! — my symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, like anxiety and sadness, that affect me as if still incarcerated.  Yet within my professional standards to deliver original lectures each time, my difficulty in crash-coursing French was admittedly learning which letters not to pronounce. Thus accomplished, my wife Crystal and I joined Project Innocence France, led by prominent criminal defense attorney, Sylvain Cormier, to advance newly discovered evidence standards via congressional support in France.
 
        As I stood before a crowded, nationally televised auditorium at the Lyon III School of Law, my presentation compared Alexander Dumas’s Count of Monte Cristo to my very real experience with prosecutorial misconduct in America. According to the National Registry of Exoneration, prosecutorial misconduct is responsible for about 21% of 1,100 registered wrongful convictions in America during 1989-2012. This includes my 1991 arrest where my pro bono legal team and I proved a prosecutor’s knowing use of perjured testimony with coercion and threats against teenage witnesses, resulting in my case becoming the first Latin-American man proven “actually innocent” in NY state legal history without DNA-evidence.
 
        To encourage current and future Project Innocence France law student interns to fight all causes of wrongful convictions, however, I discussed that in 1787 the Charity Judiciary Association became the first French association of lawyers, nobility and business folk devoted to fighting wrongful convictions, prompting King Louis the 16th to voice support. Smiling, Charity Judiciary members present also agreed that Alexis de Tocqueville’s take in “Democracy In America” that solitary confinement harms prisoner health is still empirically supported after he visited Sing Sing prison in 1836, the same prison that released me in 2009. Refocusing, I concluded with how the Statue of Liberty’s symbolism has grown to include freedom and democracy as well as the international friendship between France and America and other countries to secure human rights around the world, and why law students should help stop wrongful convictions.
 
        Then came fun beyond shaking hands and my private encouragement to law students wherever their fight against wrongful convictions occurs. As the culinary capital of the world, France offered gastronomical delights from fresh rum crepes and foie gras to fine quality blue cheeses and buttery snails, one splashing a restaurant window from over-squeezed snail tongs launching it. Moreover, beyond the Rhone and Saone Rivers lay the Gallo-Roman Museum where an ancient Roman amphitheater overlooking Lyon’s cobbled streets teemed with shoppers, beautiful accordion music and occasional beggars dressed like goats clacking and bleating for money. Paris, too, was equally impressive by speeding train two hours away with its Arc de Triomphe, Avenue des Champs-Élysées and Notre-Dame Cathedral that Crystal and I explored while kissing by pedaled taxi. Our trip concluded by visiting Zurich, Switzerland where subway police allowed public drinking and drunkenness with stern, watchful looks that seemed to limit Swiss nightlife fun to just that.
 
        Was this trip worth it before my own drunk-with-sleep, jet-lagged return to America? Yes! For me, lecturing throughout the world with cultural explorations lends additional meaning, purpose and joy amid my broken chains and the losses and pain that I still feel after my wrongful incarceration. I believe, as my first pro bono attorney, MaryAnn DiBari, has always encouraged, that innocent men and women who are wrongfully convicted must step out of Lady Liberty’s broken chain and look to God for the light of love and liberty that exonerates them and helps heal  our wounds. While I lost over 6,700 days of freedom in prison as an innocent man, I have more reasons to make the most of whatever days I have left. 
 
        For encouragement, I keep the poet Emma Lazarus’ sonnet “The New Colossus (1883) in mind. Engraved on bronze plaque on the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal, it says: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” to which I add: And your innocent in prison who deserve liberty, justice and equality!
 
        This, as the French would say, is my “raison d’ etre, or reason for existence, everyday, every journey, to scatter more apple seeds for justice to help stop wrongful convictions.
 

Ex-detention officer tells court how death row inmates are executed

Japan still retains the death penalty. Polls suggest that the majority of citizens (more than 85%) support the ultimate punishment. However, when talking with friends or students, I often find that people do not necessarily know about the punishment. Some do not even know how the executions are carried out.

This is also true in death penalty cases where the citizens participate as lay judges (saiban-in) and decide the facts and also the punishment. Lay judges do not know the situation of the death row inmates and executions, but they are asked to impose the punishment.

In an effort to let the lay judges know about the punishment at trial in deciding the sentence, some lawyers have called experts or ex-officers to testify. Here is a story about this effort.

from the Mainichi Japan:

OSAKA (Kyodo) — A former detention officer told a court Monday how death row inmates in Japan are treated and how they are executed during a trial of a murder-robbery case.

“The trapdoor on the floor opens and (death row inmates) fall at least 4 meters below and after they suffer cardiac arrest, they are left hanging for five minutes so they cannot be resuscitated,” detention officer-turned-writer Toshio Sakamoto told the Osaka District Court’s Sakai branch.

Sakamoto, known for his book “Record of an Executioner,” also said death row inmates are kept in solitary confinement except when they are allowed to exercise or take a bath.

Detention officers are informed about an execution the day before and try not to make it obvious to the inmate, he added.

Sakamoto was testifying on behalf of defendant Munehiro Nishiguchi, 52, who is charged with murdering Takeko Tamura, 67, in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, in November 2011 and robbing her of around 310,000 yen, as well as murdering Soshu Ozaki, 84, former vice president of household product manufacturer Zojirushi Corp., in Sakai a month later and robbing him of 800,000 yen.

February 25, 2014(Mainichi Japan)

Wrongfully Convicted Man Released After 10 Years in Washington State

Congratulations to Brandon Olebar and to the Innocence Project Northwest!

From the Seattle Times:

December 23, 2013 at 11:28 AM

Wrongly convicted King County man released after 10 years in prison

Posted by Mike Carter

A man who spent 10 years in prison for robbery and burglary has been released after the Innocence Project Northwest persuaded King County prosecutors to re-examine the man’s conviction, which was based solely on eyewitness testimony.

The case of Brandon Olebar came to the attention of the Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW),  based out of the clinical law program at the University of Washington Law School, in 2011. The project said two students “developed a body of evidence” that showed Olebar was not among the assailants who in February 2003 broke into the home of Olebar’s sister’s boyfriend, pistol-whipped and beat him unconscious and then stuffed him in a closet. The victim said as many as eight attackers beat him for more than 10 minutes, during which time he recognized Olebar’s sister as one of them. He told police the attackers had “feather” facial tattoos.

Two days after the beating, the victim identified Brandon Olebar from a photograph montage. Despite the fact that he does not have a facial tattoo and that he had an alibi, Olebar was charged with burglary and robbery, convicted by a King County jury solely on the basis of eyewitness testimony, and sentenced to 16 1/2 years in prison.

IPNW Director Jacqueline McMurtrie said two law students, Nikki Carsley and Kathleen Klineall, tracked down and interviewed three of the assailants, who signed sworn statements admitting their involvement and denying that Brandon Olebar was present. Working with IPN attorney Fernanda Torres, they presented the new evidence to Mark Larson, the chief criminal deputy prosecutor to King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. Continue reading

New Evidence Found in 1966 Hakamada Case

My previous post on Hakamada Case here. This is a case from 1966. Hakamada claims his innocence from Tokyo Detention Center, where he is held on death row. He has been held in confinement for over 45 years.

From the Mainichi:

New evidence emerges in 1966 murder case: lawyers

SHIZUOKA, Japan (Kyodo) — New evidence has emerged in a 1966 murder case that suggests the man who has been convicted and is on death row for the crime may have been wrongfully accused, his defense lawyers said Sunday.

The new evidence in favor of Iwao Hakamada, 77, may provide stronger grounds in their appeal for a retrial, the result of which will be decided by the Shizuoka District Court next spring at the earliest.

The lawyers said the new evidence came to light in the witness statements of two colleagues of Hakamada who were staying at the same company dormitory at the time of the crime in June 1966. Continue reading

Japan’s Hanging Method Criticized by U.S. Occupation Officials More than 60 Years Ago

 An important document concerning the capital punishment in Japan was found recently. The document showed that the U.S. occupation officials raised concerns about the execution by hanging. The method is still used today. Read here about how the executions are carried out in Japan.

 From The Asahi Shimbun:

U.S. occupation officials criticized Japan’s hanging method

By GEN OKAMOTO/ Staff Writer

U.S. occupation officials in 1949 raised concerns about how Japan executed prisoners, saying the condemned were not dying quickly enough under the hanging method that is still used today, a document showed.

The concerns were expressed in an internal document from the General Headquarters of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (GHQ) that was found in the National Diet Library by Kenji Nagata, an associate professor of law at Kansai University.

“The document shows that issues were being raised about the hanging method used in Japan from more than 60 years ago,” Nagata said.

The internal document was written by an official in the Civil Intelligence Section (G2) of GHQ and dated Sept. 2, 1949. The subject of the memo is “Executions, Japanese Prisons.”

In the document, an official in the Nagoya area is quoted as calling for a change in capital punishment “so as to effect rapid and more humane death of the subject.”

The statement indicates the official wanted Japan to employ hanging methods then in use in the United States that severed the neck vertebrae to instantly kill the prisoner.

The official in charge of prisons in G2 says in the document that the matter would be brought up with the director of the correction and rehabilitation bureau of what is now the Justice Ministry.

The document was originally kept in the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. A copy has been kept at the National Diet Library’s Modern Japanese Political History Materials Room.

Another GHQ internal document showed that 79 people were executed during the occupation period, and the average time before the individual was confirmed dead was about 14 minutes.

Japan’s hanging method has come under fire because those executed do not die quick deaths. Critics say the method violates Article 36 of the Constitution, which states “cruel punishments are absolutely forbidden.”

In a criminal trial held in 2011 at the Osaka District Court, a former prosecutor testified, “At one execution that I witnessed while working as a prosecutor, it took about 13 minutes before the individual died.”

Japan has used hanging for capital punishment since 1873.

 

Exoneree on a Lecture Tour in Japan

From Fernando Bermudez:

 I Cannot Take Off My Straw Sandals

                                                                                       By Fernando Bermudez

 Strong Hugs. Wiped tears. Repeated reassurances. Through the eyes of my children, my emotional return from Japan reflected more accomplishment than exhaustion after lecturing in 9 Japanese cities from Tokyo to Okayama throughout October 2013. In sharing my 18-year wrongful incarceration story in New York until exonerated in 2009 (due to mistaken eyewitness identifications and police and prosecutorial misconduct), my lectures at Japanese bar associations and universities urged Japan to abolish its death penalty and reduce relying on confessions to secure Japan’s 99% conviction rate, which have caused several wrongful convictions and exonerations in Japan due to false confessions.

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Fernando Bermudez in Hiroshima

Continue reading

Death of inmate’s adoptive son ends ‘Teigin’ retrial bid

My previous post on Teigin Case here.

From the Japan Times:

Death of inmate’s adoptive son ends ‘Teigin’ retrial bid

by Keiji Hirano, Oct 16, 2013

The curtain has effectively come down on the most mysterious mass-murder case in postwar Japan, with numerous questions left unanswered.

Takehiko Hirasawa, 54, who sought a posthumous retrial for his adoptive father, Sadamichi Hirasawa, was recently found dead in a home in Suginami Ward, Tokyo.

Sadamichi Hirasawa was sentenced to hang for poisoning 12 people to death at a branch of Teikoku Ginko (Imperial Bank) in Tokyo on Jan. 26, 1948, in what became known as the “Teigin Incident.” He passed away in a prison hospital on May 10, 1987, at the age of 95, after maintaining his innocence for nearly 40 years. Continue reading

Supreme Court Rejects to Reopen Nabari Case…

Previous posts on Nabari Case here, here and here. This is a murder case from 1961. The defendant, Masaru Okunishi is critically ill, awaiting his execution on a prison hospital bed.

From Mainichi.jp:

Top court rejects petition to reopen 1961 murder case

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Supreme Court said Thursday it has turned down a petition by a death row inmate for a retrial over a 1961 murder case in which five women died after drinking poisoned wine in Nabari, central Japan.

In the seventh plea for a retrial, the defense team for Masaru Okunishi, 87, presented an expert opinion that the poison used in the crime was not tetraethyl pyrophosphate as determined in the final ruling.

However, the top court’s No. 1 petty bench unanimously rejected the petition, saying the pesticide could have been used as the poison as Okinishi had initially confessed.

In response, the defense team said it plans to file another plea for a retrial with the Nagoya High Court in the near future.

The case involves the poisoning of 17 people on March 28, 1961, at a local community meeting in Nabari, Mie Prefecture. Five, including Okunishi’s wife, died and 12 fell sick.

The Tsu District Court acquitted Okunishi in 1964 for lack of evidence, but the Nagoya High Court handed him a death sentence in 1969, finalized by the Supreme Court in 1972.

Accepting his petition for a retrial, the high court decided in 2005 to reopen the case and suspend the execution, but another panel of the high court nullified the decision the next year, accepting the appeal of prosecutors.

His petition was again rejected by the high court last year after having the case sent back by the top court, leading Okunishi to file a special appeal to the Supreme Court.

Okunishi has experienced deteriorating health and is in a serious condition at a medical prison in Hachioji in the western suburbs of Tokyo, where he has been held since May.

October 17, 2013(Mainichi Japan)

73 Year-Old Inmate Executed on Sep. 12, 2013 in Japan

From the Japan Times:
Death-row inmate, 73, sixth executed under Abe Cabinet
by Tomohiro Osaki Staff Writer
Sep 12, 2013

Tokuhisa Kumagai, 73, was put to death after Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki signed the order for the execution, the sixth under the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office last December.

About a month after the slaying, Kumagai attempted another robbery during which he shot an employee at Shibuya Station in Tokyo. The station worker narrowly escaped death, but was partially paralyzed.

For this incident, Kumagai was convicted of attempted murder and attempted robbery.

He was also convicted of attempted arson and robbery for earlier incidents.

During a hastily arranged news conference after the hanging, Tanigaki denounced Kumagai’s crimes as “extremely flagrant,” saying the murder and other transgressions were motivated by selfishness and caused immeasurable pain to the families of the victims.

“As a matter of fact, his acts were scrutinized by the courts numerous times, and I myself repeatedly gave them serious considerations before signing the final order,” Tanigaki said. Continue reading

Parolee Charges Authorities for Forcing False Confessions — Sayama Case

From the Japan Times:

Parolee in 1963 Saitama girl’s slaying hits authorities for lying, forcing confessions

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer, Jun 14, 2013

Investigators will lie, grill for hours on end and withhold exonerating evidence — in effect do anything — to extract a confession from a suspect they have pegged for a crime, a 1994 parolee seeking a retrial to clear his name in the 1963 kidnap-murder of a Saitama Prefecture girl said Thursday in Tokyo.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, Kazuo Ishikawa, who appeared with his lawyer, Taketoshi Nakayama, pointed to discrepancies in the kanji used in an apparent ransom demand for ¥200,000 and an earlier document he wrote and also alleged that the state looked to him as a usual suspect because of his roots in Japan’s former outcast class known as the “burakumin.” He continues to claim he is innocent.

Ishikawa was arrested in 1963 for the kidnap-slaying of Yoshie Nakata in the town of Sayama. An autopsy carried out on her corpse at the time concluded she had been raped and strangled.

In a notorious case that would become known as the “Sayama Incident,” Ishikawa was initially sentenced to hang. Continue reading

Fabrication of Police Reports Revealed in Japan

Two (!) police scandals were revealed in Japan this week.

One was fabrication of reports and perjury during trial by police officers from the Osaka Prefectural Police, and the other was falsification and concealment of reports by the Kagoshima Prefectural Police.

In the Osaka case, the officers falsified reports and perjured during trial in a  drug case.  The defendant was arrested for obstructing the police officer at a police station. The falsification and perjury involved detention of the defendant in a protection room by a senior officer who did not have the authority to do so. A different officer filed a report saying that the senior officer ordered the confinement, but his superior told to file a false report saying that there was approval by a higher ranking officer. Two reports were then filed. Later at trial, the officers testified that the chain of command was kept. Read about the case here (The Japan Times).

The Kagoshima case involved a suspect who is a gang member.  The victim of the incident told the police officers that he did not know the suspect. A report was filed. Later, the victim changed his statement and told the officers that he knew the suspect. However, the officers fabricated the first report and wrote that the victim knew the suspect, so that the State’s case would not be damaged by inconsistent statements. The charges against the suspect were later dropped. Read about the case here ( in Japanese).

Fabrication of police reports was also revealed recently in Tokyo and Hyogo Prefectures. Both cases were sent to the prosecutor’s office/ indicted.

Japan to Pay 68 Million for 15 Years of Wrongful Incarceration

Previous posts on Govinda Mainali’s case here.
From the Japan Times:

¥68 million redress eyed for Mainali
May 25, 2013

The Tokyo District Court has endorsed paying about ¥68 million in compensation to a Nepali man who was wrongly detained and imprisoned in Japan for 15 years, according to sources.

Govinda Prasad Mainali, 46, was charged with murdering a Japanese woman in 1997 and was handed a life term that was finalized in 2003 before being cleared in a retrial last November.

Mainali was kept in prison until the decision on his retrial was reached last June after the prosecutors were shown to have withheld crucial DNA evidence that could have cleared him. He was acquitted in his initial trial.

Two Executions in Japan…

Two inmates were hanged in Japan yesterday. It seems like the number of executions are increasing in Japan in recent years…

Read more here about the death penalty in Japan and how executions are carried out.

From the Japan Times:

Two inmates hanged for yakuza slayings

by Tomohiro Osaki, Staff Writer

Apr 26, 2013

The inmates were Yoshihide Miyagi, 56, and Katsuji Hamasaki, 64, the Justice Ministry said.

Members of a yakuza syndicate, the pair were convicted of conspiring with an accomplice to gun down two rival gangsters at a family restaurant in Chiba Prefecture in 2005.

The human rights watchdog Amnesty International immediately condemned the hangings, saying the fast pace of executions by the LDP-led government tells the world that Japan is determined to ignore calls by the international community to abolish the death penalty. Continue reading

Exoneree Fernando Bermudez on a Lecture Tour in Germany

From Fernando Bermudez:

Exoneree Fernando Bermudez is now touring around Germany, giving lectures about his experience and the innocence movement in the United States. The cities he will be visiting are: Bochum, Greifswald, Berlin, Passau, Tübingen, Wiesbaden, and Freiburg. Read the news here (in German).

Fernando Bermudez served over 18 years in New York prisons, following his wrongful conviction for murder, until proven innocent in 2009. Continue reading

Jeramie R. Davis Freed After Nearly 6 Years in Prison

Congratulations to Jeramie R. Davis and to the Innocence Project Northwest!

From Spokane, Washington (The Spokesman-Review):

A man who spent nearly six years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit had one request today after a judge set him free: a double cheeseburger from Zips.

Jeramie R. Davis, 42, also looked forward to bonding with his 5-year-old son, Elijah, who was born shortly after his arrest in 2007.

“He really doesn’t know who I am,” Davis said of his son. “I want to get to know him.

Today’s release ended years of investigations, a conviction, DNA tests, a second trial that convicted a different man and scores of legal arguments stemming from the June 17, 2007, bludgeoning death of 74-year-old porn shop owner John G. “Jack” Allen.

“I’m grateful,” Davis said of years of legal battles by defense attorneys Anna Tolin, Kevin Curtis and others who labored on his behalf. Continue reading

Risinger & Risinger on Innocence Lawyers and More…

 

Here are five recently published works of scholarship relating to wrongful conviction.

(1) Michael D. Risinger and Lesley C. Risinger , The Emerging Role of Innocence Lawyer and the Need for Role-Differentiated Standards of Professional Conduct (March 21, 2013). Sarah Cooper (Ed.) Controversies in Innocence Cases in America, Forthcoming.

Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2237754

(2)Richard A. Leo, Why Interrogation Contamination Occurs (2013). Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Forthcoming; Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper .

Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2235152

(3)Andrew Chongseh Kim, Beyond Finality: How Making Criminal Judgments Less Final Can Further the ‘Interests of Finality’ (March 19, 2013). Utah Law Review, Forthcoming.

Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2235812

(4)Jon Gould,  Julia Carrano, Richard A. Leo and Katie Hail-Jares, Predicting Erroneous Convictions (March 2013). Iowa Law Review, Forthcoming; Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper .

Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2231740

(5) Samuel R Gross, How Many False Convictions are There? How Many Exonerations are There? (February 26, 2013). Wrongful Convictions and Miscarriages of Justice: Causes and Remedies in North American and European Criminal Justice Systems, C. R. Huff & M. Killias eds., Routledge, March 2013 ; U of Michigan Public Law Research Paper No. 316.

Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2225420

Breaking News: Two Retrial Pleas Turned Down in Japan Today…

Unbelievable…… Kagoshima District Court and Nagoya High Court  both turned down the retrial plea of two cases (Ohsaki Case and Fukui Case) today. Read about the Ohsaki Case here, and Fukui Case here.

Here is an article about the Ohsaki case by mainichi.jp:

Court rejects appeal for retrial over 1979 murder case

KAGOSHIMA, Japan (Kyodo) — The Kagoshima District Court rejected on Wednesday an appeal for a retrial filed by a woman who was convicted and served a 10-year prison term for killing her brother-in-law in 1979 in Kagoshima Prefecture for insurance money.

The decision came after the district court had initially decided to reopen the case involving Ayako Haraguchi, now 85, in 2002, which was overruled by the Fukuoka High Court in 2004. The high court’s decision was eventually upheld by the Supreme Court.

The murder occurred in October 1979, when Kunio Nakamura, 42, was found dead in a cattle stable beside his home in the town of Osaki, Kagoshima. Continue reading