Japan’s Supreme Court has overturned a ruling blocking the retrial of an 84-year-old man who spent almost half a century on death row awaiting the hangman’s call over the murder of a family of four.
Former professional boxer Iwao Hakamada — declared the world’s longest-serving death row inmate by Guinness World Records in 2014 — was accused of robbery, arson and the murder of his boss, his boss’ wife and their two children in 1966. The family was found stabbed to death in their incinerated home.
Hakamada initially admitted to all charges before changing his plea at trial. He was sentenced to death in a 2-to-1 decision by judges, despite repeatedly alleging that police had fabricated evidence and forced him to confess by beating and threatening him.
Japan puts far fewer people in prison than most developed countries: 39 per 100,000 people, compared with 655 in the US and 124 in Spain, according to the World Prison Brief website.