Death row inmate sues govt. over colored pencils

A trial has begun in Japan involving a death row inmate who wants to use colored pencils.

Okumoto Akihiro was convicted in 2014 of killing his wife, son and mother-in-law. He says he has been unable to use non-mechanical colored pencils to draw since February due to rule changes by the Justice Ministry. He says the rules infringe on his freedom of expression.

At a court hearing on Thursday, Okumoto's side said that even though he is still allowed to use standard pencils and colored mechanical pencils, he can no longer draw the way he used to.

Japan's government, meanwhile, expressed readiness to oppose his argument.

Okumoto's lawyer said the 33-year-old began drawing with colored pencils after his first conviction.

Supporters sold his drawings in the form of postcards. The proceeds were given to bereaved relatives.

The lawyer quoted Okumoto as saying he wants to keep drawing pictures with colored pencils as an essential part of his atonement.