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World’s longest-serving death row prisoner


On 27th March 2014, Iwao Hakamada, 78 years of age prisoner, was set free after spending 48 years in jail on death row. He was released based on the order passed by the Shizuoka District Court (Japan) which suspended his sentence and ordered a retrial.

Hakamada was a boxer by profession in his young days.

Hakamada was sentenced to death in 1968, after being found guilty of killing a family of four, including two children, and burning their home in Central Japan in 1966, where he worked as a live-in employee.

He had to wait for 27 years for his first appeal which was denied by the Supreme Court. This is said to be the lengthiest appeal process in Japan.

In the second appeal in 2008, court gave decision in his favour by cancelling the execution.

Finally in the recent hearing he was orders to be released, based on the DNA test results which stated that the blood found on five items of clothing allegedly worn by the culprit was not Hakamada’s.

Hakamada, mental health has weakened due to decades spent in isolation.

He spent 45 of his 48 years in prison awaiting execution on death row, prompting Guinness World Records to officially identify him last year as the world’s longest serving death row inmate.

Hakamada is only the sixth death row inmate in Japan to receive a retrial in the nation’s history of postwar criminal justice, with four acquitted and the fifth case still pending.

According to the government survey conducted in 2010, states that nearly 86% of Japanese feel that keeping the death penalty is “unavoidable,” and there has been little public debate on it. 

Eight people were put to death in Japan in 2013, and there are believed to be nearly 130 on death row.

The decision to free Hakamada comes a month after the forgiveness and release of America’s longest-serving death row inmate, Glenn Ford.

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