Prison abuses cost government ¥89 million

NAGOYA (Kyodo) The Nagoya District Court ordered the central government Tuesday to pay a total of about ¥89 million to five plaintiffs for abuse suffered at the hands of prison officers at Nagoya Prison.

Presiding Judge Hisashi Toda, however, rejected the plaintiffs’ demand that 11 prison officials and guards also pay damages.

The three-judge panel acted on a ¥180 million damages suit filed by the five plaintiffs, including relatives of an inmate who died in 2002 due to alleged violence at the hands of guards. Two former inmates were also among the plaintiffs.

Toda called the prison officers’ violence “outrageous.” He also recognized the acts of the prison officers as illegal and said the government can demand some of them pay compensation.

The Justice Ministry said after the ruling that the government will look into the decision carefully and make an appropriate response.

According to the suit, the 49-year-old victim who died suffered posttraumatic shock in May 2002 after being firmly bound with leather restraints.

The two former inmates argued that they suffered from bodily injuries and posttraumatic stress disorder after being punished similarly in the prison from 2001 to 2002.

During the trial, the government denied the prison officers had acted illegally and argued the leather restraints were used properly.

The government also insisted that individuals are not liable to pay damages under the 1947 national redress law.

Six prison officers were charged with abuse of authority in the death and injury of two inmates. One was acquitted while another was convicted and accepted the guilty decision by the Nagoya District Court.

Four other officers have filed an appeal with the Supreme Court against a decision in February by the Nagoya High Court that upheld guilty verdicts given by the district court.