MOSCOW, August 3 (RIA Novosti) - A Tokyo court saw the start of Japan's first trial by jury for over 60 years following radical changes to the country's justice system, national media reported on Monday.
Six jurors - five women and a man - were sworn in for the trial at the Tokyo District Court of 72-year-old Katsuyoshi Fujii, who has been accused of the murder of a 66-year-old Korean woman.
The jurors, who were selected from a pool of 47 candidates, will along with a panel of three professional judges decide whether Fujii is guilty of the murder and his subsequent sentence.
In the future jurors will also be expected to decide on whether an offender receives the death sentence. Japan, which first introduced jury trials in 1928 but stopped them in 1943, still retains capital punishment, although it is usually reserved for multiple murders.
The new law was passed in May by Japan's parliament and is aimed at giving greater transparency to the country's previous secretive judge-only trials, which were criticized for their lack of openness and 99% conviction rate.
Japan's Justice Minister Eisuke Sato said "With the change, trials will become more democratic. We hope to achieve a justice system that is speedier, more accessible and reliable."
Japan has spent around 8 billion yen ($85 million) to educate the public on the new system, with around 300 mock trials being held in preparation.