Japan’s longest serving death row inmate, Iwao Hakamada, has maintained his innocence for 40 years in the four murders he was convicted of. His confession was coerced, Hakamada says.
The judge who wrote the death-sentence now agrees with him.
“My feelings about Mr. Hakamada remain the same – I believe he is innocent,” said Judge Norimichi Kumamoto. He has revealed that he argued for acquittal but two other judges outvoted him in their secret deliberations before handing down their ruling in 1968. As the junior judge, he was tasked with writing the death sentence order.
The case has brought unprecedented focus on Japan’s secretive criminal justice system, causing a flurry or questions in legal circles and about the death penalty in a country where it’s culturally correct not to question.
Amnesty International, Japanese boxers and Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the American boxer imprisoned nearly 20 years for three murders before the convictions were overturned have all come out in Hakamada’s support.
The Japanese judicial system is now be picked through with a fine-tooth comb. Possible results may even include an overhaul and revision of the system itself.
The judge who sentenced Saddam Hussein to death has condemned the way the dictator was put to death.
“It was uncivilized and backward,” Chief Judge Raouf Abdul Rahman told reporters on Tuesday as they awaited the start of the latest trial of Saddam’s colleagues and cohorts.
Hussein, a Sunni Muslim, was hanged for his role in those killings which took place in a mostly Shiite town just north of Baghdad. The killings were a backlash after attempted assassination attempt. During the time in which hostilities between Sunnis and Shiites were erupting, the hanging occured on December 30, 2006, when Sunnis began celebrating the religious holiday of Eid al-Adha.
A video showed Saddam being taunted by Shiites just prior to his execution, including bitter exchanges between the condemned and the Shiite witnesses. After Hussein was hanged, Shiite witnesses danced around his body, chanting celebratory slogans.
In Oakland, a software designer, Hans Reiser, was convicted of the first degree murder of his wife, Nina Reiser. What makes this case interesting is the evidence brought in during the trial. Or, the evidence NOT brought in. Nina Reiser went missing after she dropped the kids off at his house over a year ago. She was never seen again. Her body, often the most important piece of evidence in a murder case, was never found.
The prosecution alleged he killed his wife amid a terrible custody battle. The defense suggested that she was stil alive living in Russia near her home town.
Obviously, the jury accepted his guilt without the evidence. Anyone headed to Russia?