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Two Tunisian men filed a lawsuit Friday with the Tokyo District Court seeking 7.2 million yen in damages from the government and a private security firm, alleging they were physically abused and that $600 was stolen by security guards after they were denied entry to Japan at Narita airport in June 2000.

One of the plaintiffs, Thameur Mouez, 23, told a news conference Friday that he and companion Thameur Hichem had their human rights violated after they were refused permission to contact the Tunisian Embassy by immigration authorities.

The security guards, who were provided by a Chiba-based security firm, later told the pair the money would be returned if they would agree in writing to forget the entire incident, Mouez added.

According to the lawsuit, the two men arrived at Narita airport on June 20, 2000, aboard a Turkish Airlines flight, but were denied entry into Japan by immigration officials because they had very little money with them.

The men were then transferred to a facility in the airport, where the security guards allegedly demanded $600 to cover their food and security services. When they refused, the guards slammed the men’s heads against a wall until they handed over the money, the lawsuit says.

The pair’s lawyers filed a criminal complaint in September with the Sakura branch of the Chiba District Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Airlines are legally obliged to collect the costs of accommodation and meals for people who are denied entry to Japan by immigration officials, but the Justice Ministry has warned airlines not to entrust security companies with the task of collecting the money.

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