Tokyo Court Rules On Wartime Police Torture Case

Tokyo court rules on wartime police torture caseA Japanese court says the torture of suspects by wartime law enforcement authorities was illegal even under the old public security law. But the court rejected a demand for compensation.
About 60 people, including magazine editors, were arrested between 1942 and 1945 on charges of advocating communism and violating the now-defunct peace preservation law.

The arrested were severely tortured by police. Four of them died in jail as a result.

After the war, some of the former convicts filed a plea for a new trial with a court in Yokohama. In 2003, the Yokohama District Court approved a retrial and, in effect, acquitted them.

Bereaved families of 2 former plaintiffs filed a suit against the government for compensation. They argued that the government allowed the police to torture suspects, and that it was responsible for the loss of court documents that resulted in a delay in the opening of the retrial.

On Thursday, presiding judge Tomonari Honda at the Tokyo District Court said that using torture during interrogation was clearly illegal even under Japan's former constitution. He said the procedures taken by prosecutors and judges at that time were illegal as they knew that the police had tortured the suspects.

Honda said that court's staff was presumably involved in the disposal of documents that should have been kept.

But the judge did not accept the demand for compensation, saying there were no laws at the time holding the government responsible for paying compensation following illegal acts by civil servants.