A former immigration officer testified in court Tuesday that he has seen officers beating detainees on several occasions at the immigration house in Tokyo’s Kita Ward. “Several times I saw two or three officers … kick (a sitting detainee) in his chest, telling him to apologize,” said Takeshi Akiyama, who served in the Kita Ward detention house between April and July 1993. His testimony was heard at a trial resulting from a damages suit filed by an Iranian in 1994 against the government for injuries resulting from an alleged assault by immigration officers. The plaintiff, Amjadi Khorasani Mohammad Mehdi, 56, claims he was kicked and beaten for 30 to 40 minutes by several officers on May 6, 1993. He claims to have have suffered broken vertebrae and other injuries. The incident occurred after several clashes between detainees, mainly Iranians, and immigration officers. Immigration officials have admitted they took Amjadi away to reprimand him but denied the violence alleged. At Tuesday’s hearing, Akiyama said he was not sure if he saw Amjadi being assaulted. However, he said he saw injured Iranians lying on the floor in handcuffs. Asked if such acts by officials were a result of resistance from detainees, Akiyama said they could not resist because they were outnumbered by immigration officials. He also said he had heard a colleague talk about a detainee soiling his pants after being kicked. Reports of mistreatment at immigration facilities, including assaults and sexual harassment, peaked around the mid-90s, experts said, pointing out that the Immigration Bureau has apparently made efforts to clean up its act since then. However, complaints are still filed. An Ethiopian asylum-seeker recently claimed he lost part of his hearing while at the Nishi-Nihon Immigration Center in Osaka because requests to see an outside doctor were refused for several months.

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