Haruyama Hiromoto

Court nixes 1972 murder retrial
Inmate claims innocence

January 2003

Compiled from Mainichi and wire reports

SAPPORO - A 66-year-old man sentenced to death for raping and murdering two women in 1972 will not be granted a retrial, the Sapporo High Court ruled on Friday.

Rejecting an appeal by Hiromoto Haruyama, who pleaded innocent to killing two women in Hokkaido in 1972 and injuring another in 1974, the court ruled that a retrial was unjustifiable.

In making the ruling, Presiding Judge Hiroshi Kadono said the man's lawyers failed to produce any evidence that brought Haruyama's guilty verdict into doubt.

"The new evidence presented by lawyers does not satisfy that which would clearly warrant a not-guilty verdict," Kadono said.

Haruyama's lawyers have announced they will submit a complaint about the rejection of the appeal, which they described as unfair.

"It's an extremely regrettable result," one of the convicted killer's lawyers said. "We will continue to seek a retrial."

Haruyama also indicated he will not back down over the ruling.

"I'm going to do my best, and I want the defense counsel to do its best as well," he said.

Friday's ruling came eight years and five months after Haruyama, a former heavy-machinery operator, filed a request for a retrial with the high court.

During the hearing, Kadono dismissed the more than 10 new pieces of evidence submitted by Haruyama's lawyers. He said there was nothing unusual about Haruyama's initial confession to the murders, and rejected lawyers claims that his personality had led him to make a false confession.

Kadono ruled that Haruyama was capable of committing the crimes even though he had partially lost the use of one of his arms, and noted that no other bodily fluids were found in the victims' bodies other than that matching Haruyama's type.

"No other bodily fluid except the A type matching that of Haruna is present," he said.

The high court also conducted DNA tests on the bodily fluid at the request of Haruyama's lawyers, but contrary to lawyers' expectations, it found that the DNA from the fluid matched his.

In response to questions about a vehicle Haruyama is thought to have used when committing the crimes, Kadono said it was regrettable that it had not been kept, but said it did not have any bearing on the case.

He added that there were no particular problems with the adoption and evaluation of circumstantial evidence in the case.

Haruyama was arrested in 1974 for assaulting and injuring a 40-year-old woman in the Hokkaido town of Naie, Hokkaido Prefecture in May that year. He later confessed to raping and strangling a 19-year-old cooking school student in the town of Tsukigata, Hokkaido Prefecture, in May 1972 and a 19-year-old department-store worker in Sunagawa, Hokkaido Prefecture, in August the same year.

But during his first trial in the Sapporo District Court, Haruyama withdrew the confessions and denied having committed the crimes.