Japanese death row inmates sue over ‘cruel’ hanging

TOKYO: Three death row prisoners filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government, arguing that execution by hanging is cruel and should be abolished, their lawyer said.

Japan is one of the few economically developed countries to still have the death penalty, and hanging has been its sole execution method for around a century and a half.

The trio at the Osaka detention centre, whose identities have not been revealed, are “seeking an injunction” against death by hanging, lawyer Kyoji Mizutani said.

They are also demanding compensation of ¥33mil (RM1.06mil), he added, for the psychological distress caused since they were given the death sentence, all since 2000.

A legal victory would force a stunning shake-up of execution laws in Japan, where public support is high for capital punishment despite international criticism.

More than 100 people are on death row, including many serial killers.

Executions are usually implemented long after sentencing, with inmates held for years in solitary confinement and only told of their impending death a few hours beforehand.

When their time comes, blindfolded convicts are led to a spot with their feet bound and hands cuffed before a trapdoor opens below them.

The mechanism is triggered in an adjacent room where several officers each press a button simultaneously, with none told which one is “live”. — AFP

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