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Friday, Feb. 8, 2008

Immigration-abuse suit is dismissed by court


Staff writer

The Tokyo District Court dismissed a lawsuit Thursday filed by three foreigners who demanded ¥31.66 million in combined compensation from the government for physical abuse, emotional suffering and medical neglect allegedly inflicted at the hands of immigration officials.

The court said the plaintiffs didn't prove the allegations.

The plaintiffs' lawyers plan to appeal. They said at a news conference that physical abuses of this type, which occur behind closed doors, are difficult to prove because evidence is hard to obtain.

They also said the three charges are based on incidents that occurred in the same facility, at the same time period and under the same workers — common elements they said were too unlikely to be coincidences.

The three plaintiffs are Rafaqat Ali of Pakistan, Mehmet Tas, a Kurd with Turkish nationality, and Farhadi Kazerooni Ahang of Iran.

Ali claimed officials at the Higashi-Nihon Immigration Center in Ibaraki Prefecture asked him to sign what appeared to be a deportation document in July 2003. When he refused, they tortured him with wrestling holds for about 20 minutes, stretching his legs and twisting his arms. The next day, when Ali told them he was injured, they did not take him seriously, according to the plaintiff's report.

Ali was examined by the doctor at the immigration center, who told him he didn't have any fractures and was fine. But a couple of months later, another doctor unaffiliated with the center noticed an abnormality that turned out to be cervical discopathy, a type of spinal injury.

Mehmet Tas allegedly sustained a back injury while watching a scuffle at the same center in April 2004, when he was pushed to the ground by a guard who stepped in.

Farhadi Kazerooni Ahang claimed a guard broke his finger by closing a door on it in May 2004. The doctor just handed him a bandage and left without examining him, according to his claim.



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