Japan

Family of four murdered; man who may have been innocent convicted of crime

June 30, 1966
Shimizu, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan
A family of four is murdered in their home

The family, who remained unnamed in the media, consisted of a father, mother, and two children. Each had been stabbed to death before their house was set on fire to destroy evidence.

The prime suspect in the murders was Iwao Hakamada (袴田 巖, pictured), a professional boxer and employee of the murdered father. Hakamada confessed to the murders, but his lawyers contended the confession was forced: he was interrogated for a total of 264 hours over 23 days, and Hakamada claimed he was kicked and clubbed until he confessed.

Despite issues with the investigation’s conclusion (blood-stained clothing found at the scene was too small for Hakamada to wear, the fruit knife investigators alleged had been the murder weapon was too fragile to withstand stabbing the victims 40+ times), Hakamada was convicted and sentenced to death.

He remained on death row for 47 years.

In 2008, a DNA test suggested the blood on the stained clothing at the scene, which was considered to not belong to the victims, did not match Hakamada. In 2011, another test confirmed the results. Yet another test in 2012 came to the same conclusion. Hakamada, who received a Guinness World Record for world’s longest-held death row inmate, was released on March 27, 2014 to be re-tried. According to The Guardian in a June 11, 2018 article, a court overturned the decision to grant Hakamada a retrial which could result in Hakamada being sent back to jail.

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