A belated post on Nabari Case…
From the Japan Times:
Death row inmate seeking retrial over 1961 wine-poisoning murders dies at 89
October 4, 2015 by Kyodo
NAGOYA – An 89-year-old death row inmate who was seeking a retrial for his 1961 conviction over the infamous wine poisoning murders in Nabari, Mie Prefecture, died in a Tokyo prison Sunday, his lawyers said.
Masaru Okunishi, who was arrested in 1961 on suspicion of murder and attempted murder, initially admitting to lacing wine with an agricultural chemical that killed five women, including his wife, but retracted his confession before being indicted. Continue reading
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.
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)
Attorneys for Okunishi on their way to the Nagoya High Court to file a Special Appeal.
Since the Nagoya High Court rejected Okunishi’s retrial last week, there has been much criticism against the decision in the press in Japan. Meanwhile, attorneys for Okunishi filed a special appeal to the Supreme Court today.
There is also a concern about Okunishi’s health. 86-year-old Okunishi has lost appetite, and now has other health issues. He is being treated at a hospital outside the detention center.
At the hospital, his right hand is tied to the bed with a handcuff, his left hand also handcuffed with a rope tying the handcuff to a guard’s hand. Four guards are constantly watching him aroun the bed…… Read about this inhumane treatment here (in Japanese).
Additional story on Nabari Case Continue reading
Attorney for Okunishi: “Unjust Decision” — From Chunichi Shimbun
The Nagoya High Court rejected the appeal for a retrial by Masaru Okunishi today. 86-year-old Okunishi has been on death row for 40 years. Previous posts about the Nabari Case here and here.
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 Continue reading
86-year-old Masaru Okunishi is still on death row. He has spent more than half of his life in custody, 40 years on death row. Will he get a retrial? The Nagoya High Court will rule later this month, on May 25 on the 51-year-old Nabari Case. (See Mark Godsey’s previous post about this case here)
In March 1961, 5 people were killed and 12 got ill in a rural town in Mie Prefecture. They were at a gathering in the town and drank a bottle of wine, which was poisoned with pesticide. Since Masaru Okunishi was the one who delivered the wine to the gathering and because both his wife and lover were killed in the incident, he soon became a suspect. The police’s theory was that he put the poison in wine and killed his wife and lover, getting rid of the “love triangle” relationship. After 5 days of intense interrogation, he confessed. He was charged for the murders.
The main evidence against him were: 1. his confession, 2. the fact that the wine was in his possession right before the incident, 3. the bite mark that was left on the lid of the wine bottle which the prosecution alleged to have matched his.
The Tsu District Court handed down the decision in December 1964. The court found Okunishi “not guilty” of the crime. The Court said that the confession was unreliable, the witnesses’ testimony on the delivery and possession of the wine was unreliable and the bite mark on the lid could not be determined as his.
The prosecutors appealed and the Nagoya High Court reversed, sentencing Okunishi to death in 1969. Continue reading