Man acquitted after DVD of interrogation used in his defense
OSAKA, Feb. 16 (AP) - (Kyodo)—A man tried for a fatal arson attack on an apartment building in Osaka was acquitted by a Japanese court Tuesday following a trial in which a DVD recording of his interrogation was the main piece of evidence used in his defense.
The Osaka District Court returned a not guilty verdict on Osamu Oike, 61, who had been indicted over a May 2007 fire that killed three people in the city in western Japan, stating that the confession he made during the police investigation is not credible.
Judge Hiroyuki Nakagawa said of the DVD that it showed Oike trying to deny the accusation, only for his attempts to dry up as the questioning wore on. Oike eventually admitted in the recording that he was responsible for the fire and later signed a confession.
However, Oike testified in his trial that he did not remember whether he caused the fire.
Nakagawa said in the ruling that it is possible that Oike was eventually forced into making a confession, as had been the interrogator's goal all along, and also cited a psychological evaluation that showed Oike has a strong tendency to accommodate the opinions of others in an effort to build up good personal relationships.
The judge added that circumstantial evidence suggests that anyone could have entered the apartment building at the time of the fire, meaning that Oike was not necessarily the only suspect in the case.
The DVD was adopted as evidence at the defense's request.
The prosecution had sought 18 years in prison for Oike, who was a resident of the apartment building at the time of the blaze that occurred on May 5, 2007. He was arrested and indicted in August that year.