Tokyo court grants retrial in 1966 homicide case

The Tokyo High Court on Monday ordered a retrial for an 87-year-old man convicted of killing a family nearly six decades ago. The Court says investigators likely fabricated key evidence.

The focus now is on whether prosecutors will decide to challenge the court's decision.

Hakamada Iwao was sentenced to death for killing four people in central Japan in 1966. He pleaded innocent and requested a retrial.

A district court granted a retrial in 2014 and Hakamada was released after nearly 50 years in detention.

Prosecutors appealed and the Tokyo High Court eventually cancelled the retrial.

But it changed course after the Supreme Court forced it to reconsider.

The decision Monday came as a big relief for Hakamada's sister.

Hakamada Hideko said, "I've been looking forward to this day for a long time. I feel relieved of my burden now."

The main point of contention was the color of blood stains on clothes that allegedly belonged to Hakamada.

The clothes were found in a tank of fermented soybean paste more than one year after his arrest.

Investigators said the stains were dark red, but Hakamada's lawyers argued they would have faded over time. The high court found merit in that argument.

It said there is reasonable doubt about the original ruling that determined Hakamada wore the clothes at the time of the killings.

The high court also said it's highly likely investigators put the clothes in the tank well after what happened.

Prosecutors have five days to decide if they want to challenge the court's decision.