Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Japan: Execution possible despite mental doubts

Amnesty International (AI) is concerned that a prisoner who withdrew a High Court appeal against his death sentence may be executed before the end of June.

According to an ‘urgent action’ appeal issued by the organisation late last week, Makino Tadashi has had his appeal for clemency rejected and is therefore "at imminent risk of execution".

Makino's lawyers have challenged his decisions in court and made unsuccessful appeals for a retrial in three levels of Japan's courts.

AI said he was sentenced to death in the Fukuoka District Court in 1990, despite his lawyers arguing during the trial that he lacked adequate mental capacity and could not be held responsible for his crimes.

"Makino appealed to the High Court but later withdrew his appeal," the organisation said.

His lawyers "challenged his motion to withdraw his appeal on the grounds that he was not fully aware of his actions" and appealed to the Fukuoka District Court for a retrial. They then appealed to the Fukuoka High Court and later the Supreme Court.

When the final appeal was rejected in January 2006, they submitted an appeal for clemency to the Ministry of Justice, which was rejected on 29 May 2008.

Makino, who was born in 1950, was sentenced to death for murdering one woman and injuring two others. He had earlier served 16 and a half years in prison for murder and attempted robbery committed when he was 19.

Appeal for action
Amnesty International is encouraging people to write letters as soon as possible to Justice Minister Hatoyama, calling on him:

* not to execute Tadashi Makino;
* to end the secrecy surrounding the death penalty in Japan by giving advance notice of executions to death row prisoners and their families;
* to order an immediate moratorium on the death penalty with a view to eventual abolition; and
* to commute all death sentences.

Appeals should be sent to:

Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
1-1-1 KasumigasekiChiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-8977, Japan
Fax: +81 3 3592 7088
+81 3 5511 7200 (via Public Information & Foreign Liaison Office)

Salutation: Dear Minister

Disturbing record
Hatoyama has a disturbing record of support for the death penalty, executing 10 prisoners since he was appointed in August 2007. Seven executions have been carried out so far this year.

AI said there were currently 105 people on death row in Japan, and at least 23 people who went on trial in 2007 were facing the death penalty -- the highest number since 1962.

Related stories:
Executions in Japan -- 2006 - 2008 -- 12 April, 2008
Japan: Minister steps up rate of hangings -- 12 April, 2008
Japan: Sixteen hanged in thirteen months -- 04 February, 2008
Japan finally names three executed -- 09 December, 2007
Minister wants ‘tranquil’ killing: Japan -- 29 October, 2007
Japan: New minister will approve hangings -- 04 September, 2007
Long wait, sudden death in Japan -- 28 August, 2006

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