Japanese supreme court grants retrial to 84-year-old known as world's longest death-row inmate

Hakamada leaves the court - Jiji Press / AFP
Japan's highest court has upheld a ruling to re-convict a man dubbed the world's longest-serving death row inmate, a lawyer for the 84-year-old said on Wednesday.
Iwao Hakamada has lived under a death sentence for more than half a century after being convicted of the robbery and murder of his boss, the husband's wife, and his two teenage children.
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Mr. Hakamada confessed to the crime, but later revoked it in court, citing his alleged brutal police interrogation and planting evidence.
In a rare U-turn for Japan's rigid judicial system, a district court in downtown Shizuoka granted its retrial motion in 2014.
The court said investigators could have planted evidence and ordered the former boxer to be released.
The prosecution appealed the ruling and won in the Tokyo Supreme Court. It prompted Mr. Hakamada to refer the case to the Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor on Wednesday and assisted in the retrial.
Mr. Hakamada - Kyodo News / AP Photo
"The fact that a trial retrial has not been cut off is very welcome. My hands are still shaking after hearing this. I'm really, really happy," Hosamada's lawyer Yoshiyuki Todate wrote on his blog .
Mr Hakamada won a retrial after one of the judges announced at his original hearings in 2007 that he supported his campaign.
Norimichi Kumamoto was one of the three judges found guilty of the boxer. His not guilty vote was overridden by the other two high-ranking judges, both of whom have since passed away.
"I instinctively felt that something was wrong, mainly because it took the police 22 days to extract Hakamada's confession," said Kumamoto as he announced his support for a retrial.
The police had different evidence, although prosecutors would have found it difficult to attach a credible case to it. The clothes Mr. Hakamada wore to commit the crime did not match him, while the weapon he allegedly used to kill the family did not match the wounds on his bodies.

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