- "I will attack a primary school and I will kill all the children before summer." The threat published in June in a website in the city of Yokohama and other threats that surfaced on the intenet the following months, put famous children in danger, including the Emperor's grandchiildren. Photo: AFP
- After a police investigation, four people were detained. Two of them, including a 19-year old student, confessed. However, on October 9th, the real author sent an email to lawyer Yoji Ochiai and local media, explaining how he sent these threats through the computers of innocent internet users, with the help of a virus. Photo: AFP
- His purpose, as he indicated in the email, was to "expose the wrongdoings of the police and the attorneys". He was successful in a way. Also, the incident raises the question of why innocent people confess to a crime they did not commit and what kind of pressure do they suffer. "Although I was surprised to receive that email, I was not surprised that innocent people confessed," said Ochiai. Photo: AFP
Aunque Japón tiene una tasa de condena de más del 99%, en los últimos meses ha habido protestas por una serie de arrestos injustos en los que los sospechosos han confesado ser culpables de crímenes que no cometieron. "A diferencia de otros casos, estas amenazas cibernéticas afectaron a personas comunes y corrientes que estaban usando internet, lo que elevó el temor de que podría pasarle a cualquiera", explica Ochiai. Cuando el abogado publicó el correo electrónico en su cuenta de Twitter y en su blog, recibió cientos de respuestas del público: la mayoría criticaba mucho más a la policía que al autor del fraude.
- Shoji Sakurai spent 29 years in prison for a robbery and a murder he did not commit. He needed another 15 years to obtain and innocent verdict in his second trial last year. Photo: AFP
- When he was detained, at 20 years old, he was treated as a guilty criminal, Sakurai says. "They interrogated me day and night, asking for a confession. After 5 days, already mentally tired, I gave up and confessed. Maybe this can be difficul for people to understand." Sakurai assured that the people who interrogated him were not aggressive, however, there have been cases where the police or the attorneys have been accused of abusing the suspects. Photo: AFP
- Hiroshi Ichikawa was an attorney during 13 years until he lost his job for threatening of killing a suspect during an interrogatory. "I'm not trying to justify my behavior saying that others did the same, but I don;t consider myself a monster for threatening to kill a suspect." Photo: AFP
One thing he regrets is to have written a confession that was not true. "After questioning a man during 8 hours, I got him to sign a declaration that was not his. He did not say anything written on that paper," he says. "My boss was putting pressure on me to obtain the confession, i thought I could not come back home without it."
- The fact that Ichikawa lost his job, suggests that the interrogating rules are working. Alhtough japanese police and attorneys have not been acussed of torture, nobody outside the room knows exactly what happens inside where there is no edfense lawyer present. Photo: AFP
- Then, why Japanese justice system values confessions so much? "They are the top of the evidence. If somebody confesses to a crime, the court will find him guilty," says Jeff Kingston of Temple University in Tokyo. If the suspect repents during interrogation, the attorneys offer a lower sentence. Photo: AFP
Yoshiki Kobayashi, who work as a police detective during 25 years, thinks the focus on confessions is beacuse of the limitations they have to ivestigate, compared to other countries. Photo: AFP
- Their power is limited for historic reasons.Before World War II, police abused of their power, and when the war ended, people demanded that power to be lost, says Kobayashi. But what makes the suspects to confess to crimes they did not comit? lawyer Yoji Ochiai thinks it has to do with the Japanese mentality. Photo: AFP
- "Traditionally people think they should not confront the authorities and confess, but now, more people (guilty or not) are acting different," says Ochia. Photo: AFP
- Shame and famaily are also important in japanese society. Sakurai says he was told his mother wanted him to confess. He couldn't confirm that with her because she died before he was freed. Photo: AFP
- Sakurai received US$1498 for every day he was in prison. However he sued the government and is looking a bigger compensation. Photo: AFP
- Justice Secretary says most of the confessions are real and play an important role in the verdict of the criminals. 7 out of every 10 people still trust the police according to a street poll. Photo: AFP
The statetment published by the father of the 19 year old student that confessed even though he was innocent of the internet threats, is condemning the system.
"Police is supposed to protect people. It is unacceptabe that they arrest and accused an innocent citizen, a child, because of bad investigations," he wrote. Photo: AFP
- "It's too hard thinking in what was going through his mind when he confessed. How he wanted to search for proof to demonstrate his innocence but he gave up. Even as a father I doubted of his innocence." Meanwhile the real author of the threats has not been caught yet. Photo: AFP
"I will attack a primary school and I will kill all the children before summer." The threat published in June in a website in the city of Yokohama and other threats that surfaced on the intenet the following months, put famous children in danger, including the Emperor's grandchiildren.