Iwao Hakamada Goes Free: Longest-Serving Death Row Inmate Released

Image: Iwao Hakamada Goes Free: Longest-Serving Death Row Inmate Released Iwao Hakamada left, 78, accompanied by his sister Hideko.

Thursday, 27 Mar 2014 05:09 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Iwao Hakamada, the man who has been on death row longer than anyone else in the world, was released Thursday by a Japanese court that ordered a retrial and indicated evidence against him may have been made up by investigators, The Associated Press said.

Hakamada, 78, was found guilty of killing a family in 1966 and spent the last 48 years in jail. All but three of those years were spent on death row, which earned him the Guinness World Record for time on death row.

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Hakamada appealed the first death sentence, and it took 27 years before that first appeal was denied. A second appeal was filed in 2008 and he got a favorable dispensation this week.

The court based its decision on DNA analysis put forth by Hakamada’s lawyers. Only five other inmates on death row have received a retrial, the AP said.

Hakamada initially confessed after undergoing interrogation for 20 days, and he later said he was beaten and retracted the confession. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-26762099

“Time is running out for Hakamada to receive the fair trial he was denied more than four decades ago,” said Roseann Rife of Amnesty International. “If ever there was a case that merits a retrial, this is it. Hakamada was convicted on the basis of a forced confession an there remain unanswered questions over recent DNA evidence.”

Amnesty International also reported that one of the three judges who heard the case has said he believes Hakamada to be innocent. The organization also said that Hakamada was kept in solitary confinement for many of the years he was imprisoned and that his mental health “deteriorated as a result of the decades he has spent in isolation.”

Hakamada was a professional boxer. He worked for the family he was accused of killing.

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