independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Death penalty an option for Japanese jury

JAPAN'S courtrooms remain a stern place for defendants.

Richard Hinds will be cross-examined by prosecutors, and three professional judges as well as six 'citizen judges', whose decisions carry almost the same weight as those of the professional judges.

Mr Hinds may also be questioned by lawyers for the Furlongs and could even be grilled by Nicola's parents.

"The victims' rights movement in Japan has made amazing progress in the last 10 years," says Mark Levin, Professor of Law at the University of Hawaii.

Citizen judges are particularly harsh on crimes with a sexual element.

Three to five years used to be an average sentence in sexual assault cases before they were introduced.

Now the average sentence is five to seven years.

The conviction rate in Japanese criminal cases is 99.87pc.

If found guilty, Mr Hinds could theoretically be sentenced to death.

However, the death sentence is unlikely because of his youth and also because capital punishment is usually reserved for multiple murders.

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