Exoneree Sugiyama Dies at 69

A sad news: Takao Sugiyama died on October 27. He was exonerated in 2011 from a robbery-murder case (Fukawa Case) in 1967.  For more on Fukawa Case, read here.

From The Japan Times:

Man Acquitted in Retrial of ’67 Fukawa Incident Robbery-Murder is Dead at 69

From Jiji: 

A man sentenced to life in a high-profile 1967 robbery-murder known as the Fukawa incident, and acquitted in a later retrial, died on Oct. 27 at the age of 69, lawyers who fought for him in the case revealed Sunday.

Takao Sugiyama had been hospitalized after his health deteriorated around summer, according to the lawyers.

Sugiyama was indicted in December 1967, along with another man, Shoji Sakurai, now 68, on suspicion of killing a carpenter in the Fukawa district in the town of Tone, Ibaraki Prefecture, in August the same year and robbing the victim of cash.

Sugiyama and Sakurai insisted on their innocence in their trial, but their life sentences, handed down based mainly on their confessions during investigations and statements from witnesses, were finalized by the Supreme Court in July 1978.

They filed for a retrial in December 1983. This was eventually dismissed by the top court in September 1992.

After spending about 29 years in prison, Sugiyama and Sakurai were released on parole in November 1996, and they sought a retrial again in December 2001.

The Mito District Court’s branch in Tsuchiura, a city in Ibaraki, decided in September 2005 to start a retrial for the pair.

Although public prosecutors filed objections, the Supreme Court turned down their claim, and the retrial began in July 2010 at the Tsuchiura branch.

In May 2011, the branch acquitted Sugiyama and Sakurai of murder and robbery in the Fukawa incident, noting, among other things, that they may have been induced to confess by investigators. The ruling became final the following month, with prosecutors giving up on filing an appeal.

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