NAGOYA – Nagoya Prison officials failed to notify the family of a 49-year-old prisoner who died in the prison in May that he had been placed in leather manacles and held in solitary confinement, prison sources said Saturday.
Prosecutors suspect the man died from injuries caused by the use of the same type of restraining device that five prison guards employed to restrain a 30-year-old male inmate in September when putting him in solitary confinement.
The five, including Chief Warden Takashi Watanabe, were arrested Friday for allegedly using excessive force to subdue the 30-year-old male inmate with a restraining device consisting of a leather belt and manacles, causing him injuries.
The investigators suspect that the 49-year-old man was subjected to similar physical violence by prison guards.
At an Oct. 4 news conference, the prison officials said they told the family of the 49-year-old man what had happened and believed the family members has expressed consent as they made no complaints.
But the family members denied the officials’ account, saying they had never been told about the manacles. “We want the prison to tell us the truth,” one of the man’s relatives said.
According to the sources, Nagoya Prison called the man’s family in Shizuoka Prefecture on May 27 saying he had died suddenly after he was moved to another room in the prison because he became unruly.
When members of the family visited the prison after his death, they were told by a doctor that the man died of heart failure. No prison officials told them about the leather manacles.
“I thought he died of illness,” said one member of the family. “It is unpardonable if violence on the part of prison staff played a major part in his death.”
“I think it is their duty to explain how the death occurred,” the relative said.
The devices are used to restrain prisoners who might try to escape, become violent or possibly attempt suicide.
Prisoners wearing the devices are generally placed in solitary confinement, with only a basin and a toilet in the cell, and are monitored around the clock.
They are forced to eat meals by lowering their heads to their plates because they are unable to use their hands.
A Justice Ministry document indicated that Nagoya Prison has used the restraining devices on inmates placed in solitary confinement on 148 occasions this year, whereas Osaka Prison has used them on 28 occasions.
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