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Statement on Retrial of the Fukawa Case


Yesterday, the Second Petty Bench of the Supreme Court of Japan rejected a special appeal filed by public prosecutors against the decision to commence a retrial petitioned by Mr. Shoji Sakurai and Mr. Takao Sugiyama of the case known as the Fukawa Case.


On July 14, 2008, the Tokyo High Court upheld the decision of the Tsuchiura Branch of the Mito District Court to open a retrial because the final decision in this case could not be maintained after evaluating the entirety of the new and old evidence and serious doubts have arisen concerning the credibility of the eyewitnesses' testimony and the petitioners' confessions.


Today's ruling also upheld that decision and unanimously rejected the public prosecutors' special appeal as their claims were not regarded as a valid reason for special appeal permissible under the Code of Criminal Procedure.


The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) highly appreciates today's decision.


In addition to the Ashikaga case, this case has also revealed the fact that interrogations which had forced suspects into making false confessions and the use of illegal investigation techniques such as concealing evidence have led to miscarriages of justice. These cases strongly demonstrate the necessity for transparency in interrogations, i.e., video recording of the entire process of interrogations.


The JFBA has been and will continue to be supporting the petitioners in this matter until they win their acquittals. In order to prevent further miscarriages of justice from occurring in the future, the JFBA is also making every effort to reform the criminal justice system, including the abolition of substitute prisons, which are a breeding ground for illegal interrogations and in which the petitioners were forced to make false confessions, as well as the introduction of electronic recording of interrogations and full-disclosure of the evidence held by public prosecutors.


December 15, 2009
Makoto Miyazaki
Japan Federation of Bar Associations


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