Japanese boxer formerly on death row attends pope’s Mass

A former Japanese professional boxer who spent 48 years in prison for murders he says he did not commit was…

A former Japanese professional boxer who spent 48 years in prison for murders he says he did not commit was among some 50,000 people greeting Pope Francis as he entered Tokyo Dome stadium to celebrate Mass on Monday.

Iwao Hakamada, who converted to Catholicism during his decades on death row, was invited to the Mass and was there with his sister, organizers said.

Hakamada, 83, was released from prison in 2014 because of new DNA evidence. He has become a symbol of a movement to oppose the death penalty in Japan.

Francis decreed the death penalty “inadmissible” last year, in a change to the Catholic teachings called Catechism.

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