Prosecutors file appeal to block retrial of woman, 90, who served time for 1979 murder


Prosecutors on Monday filed an appeal against a district court’s decision last week to grant a retrial for a 90-year-old woman who served a 10-year prison term for the murder of her brother-in-law in Kagoshima Prefecture in 1979.

The Miyazaki branch of the Fukuoka High Court will take a fresh look into whether to grant a retrial for Ayako Haraguchi. Her lawyers were calling for the prosecution not to file the appeal on grounds that such a move would take years to complete.

The Kagoshima District Court in 1980 found Haraguchi guilty of killing Kunio Nakamura, 42, based on the confessions of three of her relatives, including her then husband. They were also convicted.

The prosecutors are also seeking to overturn the district court’s decision to retry the case of her former husband, who is now deceased, at the same time.

Haraguchi has consistently denied wrongdoing, and this is her third attempt to seek a retrial, with its focal point being the credibility of her relatives’ confessions.

In the June 28 decision, the district court drew on a psychologist’s report filed by her lawyers that cast doubt on the credibility of the confessions, saying the relatives may have been misled by investigators. It concluded that given there is no “objective” evidence proving Haraguchi’s involvement, there is a chance she had nothing to do with the death.

Haraguchi was convicted of conspiring with her relatives to strangle Nakamura with a towel before leaving his corpse in a cattle barn next to his home in the town of Osaki, Kagoshima, in October 1979.

Haraguchi, who was 52 years old when she was arrested, was released from prison in 1990. She filed her first retrial request in 1995. Although the district court granted a retrial in 2002 based on the request, the high court rescinded the decision two years later.

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