TOKYO: A Japanese court on Thursday acquitted a man who spent 13 years in prison for murder, finding there was "no material evidence" he committed the crime, his lawyer and media said.
"He was found innocent," Fumio Takemura, the lead lawyer for the now 85-year-old Koki Miyata, told AFP.
Miyata was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 1986 after being convicted of stabbing an acquaintance to death in the town of Matsubase in southwestern Japan. His sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court four years later and he was not released until 1999. He has since suffered several strokes that have left him partially handicapped.
"Objectively, there are contradictions in the confessions and there is no material evidence," the judge said in explaining the decision to overturn Miyata's conviction, local media said.
In recent years, there has been a surge in the number of appeals against convictions in Japan because of legal changes including the introduction of jury trials for serious crimes.
Among the best-known cases is that of former boxer Iwao Hakamada who was sentenced to death after being convicted of murdering four people and spending 48 years on death row.
In 2014, a court granted him a retrial and he was released pending the new process. But last year the Tokyo high court reversed that ruling, pushing the case up to the Supreme Court, which has yet to issue a verdict.