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)