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Supreme Court Rejects Appeal To Release Elderly Death Row Convict

July 21, 1985

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan’s Supreme Court on Saturday rejected an appeal for the release of a 93-year-old death row convict whose execution has been postponed for 30 years, court officials said.

Lawyers for Sadamichi Hirasawa appealed a lower court ruling on the grounds that a 30-year statute of limitations expired May 7.

But Chief Judge Seiichi Wada and four other judges said the statute did not apply to people in detention and was meant only for those still at large after trial.

Hirasawa was convicted in a 1948 murder case in which 12 people were poisoned to death from drinking potassium cyanide. He was sentenced to death row by the Supreme Court in 1955.

Although Hirasawa confessed to the crime after long hours of interrogation, lawyers claim that the confession was made under duress. Hiraswa retracted the confession in court.

No justice minister since then has signed the death-by-hanging document which is required in the case.

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