Japan | Hakamada case underscores folly of maintaining death penalty

The Tokyo High Court’s decision on March 13 to grant a retrial for an 87-year-old man who spent decades on death row strongly shows that he was wrongly convicted. The retrial should be held immediately to provide a legal remedy for Iwao Hakamada. In granting the retrial in the high-profile case, the high court said reasonable doubt has arisen on the guilt of Hakamada. He was arrested on suspicion of murder in August 1966, two months after an executive of a miso-producing company and three of his family members were killed in what is now Shizuoka. Hakamada, who had worked at the miso company, spent most of his adult life in detention. His latest request for a retrial was filed 15 years ago.

China: Court changes death sentence to life imprisonment in rape case

A higher court in central China's Hunan Province overturned a death sentence for 2 men convicted of raping the daughter of a social campaigner and sentenced them life in prison in their final ruling on Friday.

Zhou Junhui and Qin Xing were found guilty of rape, organizing prostitution and forcing others into prostitution, according to the Hunan Higher People's Court.

In October 2006, Tang Hui's then 11-year-old daughter was raped and forced into prostitution. She was rescued on Dec. 30, 2006.

In Tang's daughter's case, the same higher court sentenced Zhou and Qin to death, another four accomplices to life in prison and one to 15 years in a final verdict on June 5, 2012. But a collegiate bench of the Supreme People's Court annulled the death penalty for the 2 in June this year and ordered the provincial higher court to retry the case.

The court retried the case on July 25 and made the final ruling on Friday.

Zhou had 10,000 yuan (1,623 U.S. dollars) of his personal wealth confiscated. Qin also had 10,000 yuan of his personal wealth confiscated and was fined another 5,000 yuan, according to the court.

The court said their crime did not warrant a death sentence.

The victim's mother, Tang, gained public attention after protesting in front of the Yongzhou municipal government buildings on Aug. 2, 2012 when she insisted on harsher punishments for all those found guilty.

She was then put in a labor camp in Yongzhou for "seriously disturbing social order and exerting a negative impact on society" but was released 8 days later amid a public outcry urging her release.

On Jan. 22, 2013, Tang filed a lawsuit at the Intermediate People's Court in Yongzhou in which she asked for 2,463.85 yuan in compensation.

On April 12 that year, the court ruled that Tang was not entitled to the compensation she requested. She then appealed to the provincial higher people's court, which ordered the Yongzhou municipal re-education through labor commission to pay her 2,641.15 yuan in July for infringing upon her personal freedom and causing psychological damage.

Her case helped bring about the abolishment of the reeducation through labor program late last year.

Re-education through labor, known as "laojiao" in Chinese, allows police to detain people for up to 4 years without an open trial.

Source: Xinhua News, Sept. 6, 2014

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