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World's Longest Serving Death Row Inmate Goes Free

Japan sets boxer free after 48 years on death row
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 27, 2014 4:02 AM CDT
Japan Frees Death Row Inmate After 48 Years
"Free Hakamada Now!" goods are sold at a lobby area during a special charity event hosted by the Japan Pro Boxing Association to free death row inmate Iwao Hakamada.   (AP Photo/Katsumi Kasahara)

(Newser) – A Japanese court has ordered the release of the world's longest-serving death row inmate, saying investigators had likely fabricated evidence. The court ordered a retrial and suspended the death sentence for 78-year-old Iwao Hakamada, a former professional boxer convicted in the 1966 murder of a family. More than 45 of the 48 years he has spent in jail have been on death row, making Hakamada the longest-serving such inmate.

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Hakamada was sentenced to death in 1968, but was not executed because of a lengthy appeals process. It took 27 years for the country's supreme court to deny his first appeal for a retrial. He filed a second appeal in 2008, and the court finally ruled in his favor today, finding that DNA analysis obtained by Hakamada's lawyers suggested that investigators had fabricated evidence. He 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. (Read more Iwao Hakamada stories.)

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