Jiji Press FUKUOKA (Jiji Press) — The Fukuoka High Court on Wednesday upheld a district court order to open a retrial of an 84-year-old man who had been imprisoned over a 1985 murder in Kumamoto Prefecture.
The high court rejected an appeal from public prosecutors against the Kumamoto District Court ruling last year that granted the retrial of the former inmate, Koki Miyata.
“New evidence has undermined the credibility of his confession made during investigations,” said Masataka Yamaguchi, presiding judge at the high court.
Miyata was arrested on suspicion of killing a man in the then Kumamoto town of Matsubase, now part of the city of Uki, after confessing to the murder during criminal investigations.
He switched to denying the charges during the trial. But he was sentenced to 13 years in prison, and the ruling became final in 1990.
With no evidence available other than his initial confession that indicated his responsibility, the credibility of the confession, on which the 1990 Supreme Court decision was based, was the key issue in the proceedings initiated by Miyata’s petition for a retrial in 2012.
The district court denied the credibility of the confession as the prosecution retained the cloth Miyata claimed to have burned after using it to wrap the knife that killed the victim. The court also took into account the inconsistency between the shapes of the knife blade and wounds on the victim, shown by newly obtained evidence.
In the high court ruling, Yamaguchi said the inconsistency raises a reasonable suspicion that the knife was not used to kill the victim.