Monday, 3rd August 2009
In Events In Japan,
First criminal trial held in Japan for more than 50 years
The first criminal trial to be held in Japan since the Second World War has begun today (August 3rd).
As part of an overhaul of the judicial system, six members of the public will sit with three judges to come to a verdict at trials.
Previously, trials in Japan have been overseen by a panel of judges and have sometimes been criticised for being lengthy and too "behind closed doors".
Questioning by police often takes place without a lawyer present.
The first trial to use the new system is that of Katsuyoshi Fujii, 77, who has been accused of murdering his neighbour, a South Korean woman.
Justice minister Eisuke Sato said that with the changes to the way in which trials are held, hearings will become more democratic.
"We hope to achieve a justice system that is speedier, more accessible and reliable," he said.
The new rules were decided in 2004 and since then there have been various mock trails and seminars to help the Japanese public understand the legal system in the country.
Written by Mark Smith.
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