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No redress for deportation death of Ghanaian man at Narita airport: Supreme Court

Kyodo

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal for compensation from the family of a Ghanaian man who died after being restrained by immigration officials during deportation.

In a decision dated Wednesday, the top court’s Second Petty Bench upheld a lower court ruling that overturned an earlier order for the state to pay damages to the family.

According to the final ruling, Abubakar Awudu Suraj, 45, died after being restrained when he was put on a flight to Cairo at Narita airport near Tokyo in March 2010.

He resisted the officials trying to get him on the plane. The deportee was gagged with a towel and forced to lean forward while seated in the cabin.

In March 2014, the Tokyo District Court admitted that the man suffocated because of the officials’ action, saying it was an “unlawful act” to force him to lean forward while seated even though he was not resisting forcefully.

The district court ordered the state to pay about ¥5 million ($47,000) in damages to the plaintiffs, his wife and mother.

But the Tokyo High Court judged that the man died due to chronic heart disease, rejecting all damages claims by the family.

In July 2012, the Chiba District Public Prosecutor’s Office decided not to file charges against the officials due to lack of evidence.