This is the seventh petition for retrial for Okunishi, filed in 2002. The key new evidence for this petition is a testing result by a chemist. The result concluded that the pesticide in the wine that the victims drank was not “Nikkarin-T”, the chemical with which Okunishi confessed he poisoned the wine.
Division 1 of the Nagoya High Court granted a retrial based on the new evidence in 2005, saying that Okunishi’s confession obtained during 5 days of intense interrogation was unreliable. However, this decision was vacated in 2006 by Division 2 of the same High Court after the prosecution appealed. Okunishi filed a special appeal to the Supreme Court, which referred the case back to the Division 2 of the Nagoya High Court in 2010, saying that “it did not decide on the case based on science”.
Today, Division 2 of the High Court vacated the 2005 decision to grant retrial yet again. Presiding Judge Yasuo Shimoyama stated in the decision that “it is clear” that the testing result “did not suggest that the pesticide in the wine was not Nikkarin-T” and that “Okunishi’s confession is reliable in essence. It was not possible for anyone other than the death row inmate Okunishi to put the pesticide in the wine”.
Today’s decision illustrates how the confessions are still the king of the evidence in Japan. Even the state-of-the-art evidence cannot concur them.
Attorneys for Okunishi say they will immediately prepare an appeal to the Supreme Court.