A Japanese death-row inmate who killed his family is suing the government because they banned the coloured pencils he used to draw pictures and raise money to compensate bereaved relatives.
Akihiro Okumoto, 33, has filed a lawsuit claiming that the ban is a violation of his freedom of expression, which is guaranteed under the Constitution of Japan.
The first hearing took place at the Tokyo District Court on 7th October, with the government requesting that the court dismiss the case because the directives were “orders within an administrative organisation and therefore should not be covered in a lawsuit”.
Okumoto was sentenced to death in 2014 by the Supreme Court for murdering his son, his mother-in-law and his wife in 2010.
Incarcerated at the Fukuoka detention centre, he had enjoyed drawing pictures thanks to a set of 24 coloured pencils.
He sold the pictures and sent the money he made to bereaved family members, according to Japanese daily The Mainichi.
But in October last year, the Ministry of Justice changed the rules, making it impossible for inmates to buy coloured pencils “following a review on issues regarding security”.
The jailbird argues that there are plenty of other writing utensils available at the detention centre, so the risk that he could harm himself with pencils cannot be that high.
He is therefore arguing that a total ban on the coloured pencils is overly restrictive.
The case is ongoing.