Japan's Supreme Court has rejected lower court decisions granting a woman a retrial in a 40-year-old murder case. It is believed to be the first time the Supreme Court rejected approval for a retrial by a district court and a high court.
Ayako Haraguchi was convicted in the 1979 death of her brother-in-law. The 92-year-old served a 10-year prison sentence but maintains her innocence.
The incident took place in the town of Osaki in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima. The brother-in-law, who was 42 at the time, fell into a ditch while riding a bicycle drunk. He was taken home by neighbors, but later went missing. He was found dead three days later in a shed at his house.
Haraguchi was indicted for strangling the man and on other charges. She served a 10-year prison sentence, but sought a retrial.
The Kagoshima District Court approved a retrial in June 2017 after the defense counsel submitted an expert's opinion on the man's remains.
The Miyazaki branch of the Fukuoka High Court approved a retrial in March last year. It said the death was probably caused by the man falling from his bicycle into the ditch.
But Hiroshi Koike, presiding justice at the Supreme Court's First Petty Bench, rejected a retrial on Wednesday. He said the newly submitted expert opinion did not involve an autopsy and is limited as evidence.