crime

Top court scraps comic magazine editor's guilty verdict over wife's death

10 Comments

Japan's Supreme Court on Monday quashed a lower court ruling that sentenced a former deputy editor of the popular Morning comic magazine to 11 years in prison for killing his wife and sent the case back to the Tokyo High Court for retrial.

Pak Jong Hyon, 47, has denied killing his wife Kanako, 38, with his defense team claiming she killed herself after becoming mentally unstable from postpartum depression.

Presiding Justice Atsushi Yamaguchi said, "The case has not been fully considered."

The Tokyo District Court in 2019 found Pak guilty of murder, saying he strangled his wife at their Tokyo home on Aug 9, 2016. The ruling was upheld by the high court last year.

Morning is published by Kodansha Ltd, and features hit comics such as "Cooking Papa."

© KYODO

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Japan's Supreme Court on Monday quashed a lower court ruling

So they over turned their own ruling?

 The ruling was upheld by the high court last year.

Something isnt kosher here.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

This is the first time that a guilty ruling reached by a district court under the lay judge system has been thrown out by the top court after being upheld by an appeals court. 

This is rather concerning because the charges by the prosecution were so detailed, and the Supreme Court is now apparently telling us that the evidence may not support the charge.

Pak is a South Korean national, and according to reports, the prosecutors had asserted that Pak had “suddenly developed a murderous intent after his wife complained about his lack of support in doing household chores and raising their children and spoke ill of his mother.” They also maintained that he pushed his wife down some stairs after choking her in a bedroom.

If the prosecution’s assertions were factual, you would have assumed that this would have been an open and shut case. Wouldn’t forensics experts be able to distinguish between strangulation and suicide?

Most damning is the nullification of the high court’s ruling last year, in which, according to NHK, the high court judges concluded that “the state of the wife's body and evidence found at the site contradict the presumed situation of a suicide.”

Lots of questions here.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Japan justice system couldn't accept someone can be mentally unstable and commit suicide. So they blame her spouse instead, also wondering do they force him to confess too?

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

This is rather concerning because the charges by the prosecution were so detailed, and the Supreme Court is now apparently telling us that the evidence may not support the charge.

In this criminal case for jury trial, evidence had been present, deliberated and selected in a pre-trial conference procedure 公判前整理手続. Despite that, the top court verdict suggests that the evidence is not sufficient, which I think is highly exceptional and extraordinary. The top court could already have walked him.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This case started in 2016, from that time he need to endure standard treatment like long interrogation hours and solitary confinement. Beside that his kid need to live fatherless for 6 years thanks to Japan justice system.

Even in previous news mentioned there are bloods in scene and even broken bones, it's quite common for postpartum people to do self harm, which explain as if there was violence happened.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/psychological-medicine/article/abs/selfharm-in-women-with-postpartum-mental-disorders/6E9C947770B3A6FD2DD2D64448F489CE

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The whole thing is a huge mess for the courts, by scraping the previous verdict they are recognizing the process was severely deficient. If this is true then what about every other case? is this an isolated incident or is a sign of a systematic problem with how trials are conducted?

Reversing the verdict on a murder is a terribly serious thing that puts in doubt a lot of other things being done, so it should be given the importance it merits and be the cause of serious consideration, not just a change on a single case.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That means in fact he gets free and receives even money for the time in prison so far, whatever brutal killing he might have done, because we have now doubts here, and they are officially confirmed. And if in doubts, the old jurisdiction rule ‘in dubio pro reo’ has to be applied.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Sven Asai

That means in fact he gets free and receives even money for the time in prison so far …

Yea, good luck with any wrongful conviction claim in Japan. Earlier this year, a woman unjustly imprisoned for 20 years was granted only 12 million yen for her wrongful arrest and murder conviction. That amounts to a measly 600,000 yen a year.

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14573661

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Supreme court overturns a lower court decision.

He must be a South Korean. That probably did not help him in the trial. Accused of killing his Japanese wife.

Hopefully, he will now get a fair trial.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Most damning is the nullification of the high court’s ruling last year, in which, according to NHK, the high court judges concluded that “the state of the wife's body and evidence found at the site contradict the presumed situation of a suicide.”

Lots of questions here.

Of course there are lots of questions, but we don't get to see and judge the evidence. No system is perfect and the Japanese recognizes this and allows for appeals up to the Supreme Court as way to improve accuracy. Undoubtedly they want to minimize the chance of a false prosecution while still serving justice.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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