High court upholds termination of wartime suppression case retrial (Japan)

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The Tokyo High Court on Friday rejected an appeal by families seeking not-guilty verdicts for five deceased men who were convicted of promoting communism during World War II in the"Yokohama Incident," the worst case of wartime suppression of free speech in Japan in which over 60 journalists and magazine editors were arrested.

The court upheld a lower court ruling terminating a retrial for the five -- Toru Kimura, Eizaburo Kobayashi, Hiroshi Yoshida, Kenjiro Takagi and Toshio Hiradate -- who their families say were falsely charged after investigators tortured them to gain confessions.

The families had repeatedly sought a retrial and the Yokohama District Court accepted their third petition in 2003. The high court upheld its decision in 2005.

The district court, however, handed down a ruling on Feb. 9 last year to terminate the trial, saying the five were given general amnesty after World War II and that the Peace Preservation Law under which they were found guilty has been abolished.

The families filed an appeal against the ruling, saying they can only accept not-guilty verdicts for the men.

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