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Sometimes, just sometimes

You may have read in various papers or online that our Individual At Risk, Hakamada Iwao, has been released from jail in Japan, after 45 years in imprisonment, most of those on death row.

Hakamada was convicted in 1968 over the murder of a family of four.  His conviction was suspect even at the time.  He confessed after 20 days of interrogation by the police; when the case came to trial, he withdrew the confession.  He was convicted in part thanks to some blood-stained clothing that was found at the scene, said to belong to him, but the clothing didn't fit him, and now, DNA evidence has shown that the blood was not, as alleged at the time, his.

The prosecutors are trying to overturn his release, and even if they are unsuccessful Hakamada would be heading for a retrial, so he is not free of his nightmare yet.  And the cruel treatment that he's received for decades - the Japanese legal system does not inform prisoners of the date of their execution until the day itself - has left him frail and confused, so the nightmare may never really be over for him, whatever the result of any retrial.

More details in the links above, or over in the right-hand column.  And we just want to make this point: that sometimes, all the letter writing and campaigning that Amnesty and other HR organisations do can, through us all pooling our resources together, can make the world a better place.

We're not saying that we in the Stockport Amnesty Group had a big impact on the events in Japan, but we're proud to be part of the huge number of people that stood up and continue to stand up for Hakamada.  Most of all, we'd like to mention our admiration for Hakamada's sister, Hideko, now aged 81, who has spent half her life campaigning for her brother's release.


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