Sunday, 26 August 2007

Japan executed mentally ill man

One of three Japanese men hanged last week had been diagnosed as suffering from mental illness, according to an update released by Amnesty International (AI).

The human rights organisation said that, at the time of his trial, doctors from both the prosecution and defence found Hifumi Takezawa was mentally ill.

"At his appeal, his lawyer argued that Takezawa had apparently suffered a significant personality change as a result of a stroke, which made him paranoid and aggressive, but the judge rejected the appeal," AI said.

"It is not known whether Takezawa had received any medical treatment for his mental illness during his nine years on death row."

Hifumi Takezawa, 69, Yoshio Iwamoto, 63, and Kozo Segawa, 60, were hanged on 23 August in Tokyo and Nagoya.

AI said the men were hanged when the Japanese Diet was in recess, similar to previous executions.

"Japan has a record of executing prisoners with mental disabilities," AI said.

"The harsh condition of death row – isolation cell, lack of human interaction, and mostly the stress from being under perpetual threat of execution, means that many prisoners develop mental illness while they are on death row."

It said the Government's refusal to name the men hanged demonstrated "the extreme secrecy surrounding the implementation of the death penalty in Japan".

"Families and lawyers are usually not informed until after the executions and prisoners are often hanged at very short notice."

104 people remain on death row in Japan.

Background - Takezawa
According to a report by The Asahi Shimbun on 23 August, Takezawa was convicted of strangling a company executive in 1990 in the city of Nikko (then called Imaichi), Tochigi Prefecture.

He reportedly put the body in a car and set it alight. He also killed an elderly couple and set fire to their home their home in 1993 in the same city.

Related stories:
Japan: Lawyers condemn three more executions -- 24 August, 2007
Urgent move to stop executions in Japan -- 8 August, 2007
Long wait, sudden death in Japan -- 28 August, 2006
Japan: Lonely wait for the noose -- 5 April 2006
Japan's death row hell -- 3 March 2006

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