A Japanese high court on Monday ruled against reopening a 1966 quadruple murder case involving former professional boxer Iwao Hakamada, rejecting a lower court decision.
The defense team of Hakamada, 82, is expected to appeal the decision by the Tokyo High Court to the Supreme Court.
Hakamada was freed in March 2014 after nearly 48 years on death row by the Shizuoka District Court, which in addition to ordering the reopening of the case also suspended Hakamada’s death sentence and his continued detention.
Hakamada, who was then a live-in employee at a soybean processing firm, was arrested in August 1966 on suspicion of robbery, murder and arson after the firm’s senior managing director, his wife and two children were found dead with stab wounds at their burned-down house in Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan.
Hakamada initially confessed to investigators before changing his plea at the trial.
The Shizuoka District Court in 1968 sentenced him to death, citing the prosecution’ claim that Hakamada’s blood was detected on five items of clothing found in the processing plant. The decision was finalized by the Supreme Court in 1980.
Hakamada filed his first plea for a retrial in 1981 but it was rejected by the district court in 1994, the high court in 2004 and the top court in 2008, prompting his sister Hideko, 85, to file a second plea.
In the decision on the second plea in March 2014, the district court accepted DNA test results that undermined the claim that Hakamada’s blood was found on the clothing items. The court even noted that the evidence could have been fabricated by police.
(Hakamada awaits high court decision at his home on June 11)
Prosecutors appealed against the decision to the Tokyo High Court, casting doubt on the reliability of the DNA tests.
Hakamada’s defense lawyers had urged prosecutors not to file an appeal, saying the ex-boxer suffers from diminished mental capacity due to his long years of detention.