Japanese Court awards retrial for world’s longest-serving death row inmate

BY Ariel Min  March 27, 2014 at 6:13 PM EST


Video by The Washington Post

A Japanese court Thursday ordered the release and retrial of a prisoner who has been serving on death row for more than 45 years — the longest-serving death row inmate in the world. Out of those years, 30 were spent in solitary confinement.

Iwao Hakamada, the 78-year-old inmate, was accused of murdering four people, including children, in 1966 and burning down their house. His lawyers have been pushing for a retrial, arguing that the DNA found on bloodstained clothing did not match that of Hakamada. The controversy over evidence prompted the presiding judge to revoke the capital punishment and grant the release of the inmate following a retrial, overturning the original verdict that was upheld by the Japanese Supreme Court back in 1980.

The court decided that it is most likely that investigators might have fabricated evidence during the initial trial.

Japan, along with the U.S., is the one of two countries in the Group of Seven industrialized economies that has sustained capital punishment, with nearly 86 percent of the populace in support of the death penalty.