Japan orders longest-held death row inmate freed

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TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese court has decided to release a man on death row for more than 30 years in a high-profile murder case based on new DNA evidence.

The Shizuoka District Court on Thursday suspended the death sentence for 78-year-old Iwao Hakamada and ordered him released after 48 years behind bars. Guinness World Records lists him the longest-serving death row inmate. The top court sentenced him to death in 1980.

The court says DNA analysis obtained by his lawyers suggests investigators fabricated evidence. It also ordered a retrial.

The ruling underscores Japan’s much criticized closed interrogations that rely heavily on self-confession.

Hakamada, a professional boxer, was convicted of killing a company manager and his family and setting fire to their central Japan home, where he was a live-in employee.

Associated Press

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