JAPAN. EX-JUDGE URGES CONDEMNED MAN'S RETRIAL
June 25, 2007: Norimichi Kumamoto, a former judge who in 1968 sentenced a pro boxer to hang for murdering a family of four, submitted a petition to the Japanese Supreme Court demanding a retrial. Kumamoto, 69, said publicly in March he thought Iwao Hakamada, now 71, was innocent during the trial but could not persuade the two other judges. Kumamoto doubted the credibility of Hakamada's confession and the court ended up rejecting a huge portion of the confession as evidence.
The case caused Kumamoto to step down from the bench a year later. In Japan, such confessions on the part of a judge are extremely rare. The Court Organization Law stipulates that judges must keep deliberations secret when a ruling is made by more than one judge. Hakamada was found guilty of fatally stabbing a miso company executive in 1966 and killing his family by setting fire to their house while robbing them of about 200,000 yen. (Sources: Japan Times, 26/06/2007)