Iraqi boy arrives for eye treatment

Kyodo

A 10-year-old Iraqi boy arrived in Japan on Friday to receive treatment for an eye injury as promised by a Japanese journalist who was killed in Iraq last week.

Mohamad Haytham Saleh and his father, Haytham, 32, landed at Narita airport, Chiba Prefecture, on Friday morning. They were later taken by car to the city of Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture, where he is to be treated.

Officials of the Numazu Rotary Club are accompanying the boy and his father at the request of the slain journalist, Shinsuke Hashida, 61.

Mohamad underwent medical checks at a local hospital Friday afternoon, and another appointment was set for Saturday so that doctors could decide how to treat him. “The biggest problem is the pain in the injured eye. We hope we were able to ease it as much as possible,” said one of the doctors who saw the boy.

The boy had been scheduled to arrive in Japan on Tuesday. However, the trip was delayed because Hashida, who had been planning to pick him up and accompany him to Japan, was killed May 27 by unidentified gunmen near Baghdad while he was riding in a car with his nephew, journalist Kotaro Ogawa, 33, their Iraqi driver and interpreter.

The child’s airline tickets were found among Hashida’s belongings, left behind at a Baghdad hotel.

Mohamad, the son of a taxi driver Hashida met in Iraq, sustained a serious injury to his left eye from broken glass sent flying during a U.S. military operation last November in Fallujah.

Although he underwent surgery twice, he lost the vision in his eye.

Upon arrival at Narita airport, the boy said he felt fine, but his eye hurt. He added that he would like to visit the graves of the two journalists during his stay in Japan, which is expected to last about 10 days.