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.

South Korea | Life prisoner sentenced to death for beating inmate to death

An appellate court sentenced a life prisoner to death on Thursday for beating and killing a prison inmate.

The Daejeon High Court handed down the death penalty to the 28-year-old charged with strangling and kicking a 42-year-old inmate to death in a cell they shared at a prison in Gongju, 125 kilometers south of Seoul, in December of 2021.

A district court had earlier sentenced him to life in prison, but prosecutors appealed and demanded capital punishment, saying sentencing a lifer to another life term is pointless and death penalty is needed to prevent further violence by him and to keep correctional institutions in order.

The man was serving a life sentence for murdering a man in the city of Gyeryong in 2019 and robbing him of nearly 400 grams of gold and a sedan.

"It is questionable whether he has any possibility of reformation, given that he murdered two people in a short period of time and repeatedly used violence against the victim," the Daejeon High Court said.

"It is also questionable what meaning it would have to sentence a man already serving a life sentence to life imprisonment or a lower sentence," it said.

The appellate court also sentenced 2 other accomplices charged with murder to 12 years and 14 years behind bars, respectively.

Investigations showed the 3 assaulted the victim by pouring hot water over his head and using clothespins to pinch him. They also forced him not to see a doctor and not to have his family members visit him for fear he could expose their violence.

The victim, initially healthy except for an underlying heart disease, eventually died of bleeding, inflammation and fractured ribs within 20 days of the violence.

Source: Yonhap News Agency, Staff, January 26, 2023

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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