• Jiji, Kyodo


The 27-year-old sister of a Sri Lankan woman who has died during detention in Japan said Tuesday that she and her lawyers have watched some of the surveillance camera footage of the woman’s detention in Nagoya.

They watched the footage as part of proceedings for the preservation of evidence, in preparation for a damages lawsuit against the Japanese government over the death of Wishma Sandamali, then 33, in March this year.

Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo, her sister, Poornima, urged Japanese immigration authorities again to disclose all of the footage taken at the Nagoya Regional Immigration Services Bureau facility.

“There were some differences between the video and the report (by the Immigration Services Agency),” Poornima said. “I can’t trust them.”

According to the lawyers, surveillance footage from between Feb. 22 and March 6, the day the woman died, making up 33 DVDs, has been preserved as evidence.

Bereaved family members and others watched some of the footage at Nagoya District Court on Friday.

The lawyers said that immigration officials kept trying to feed Wishma on March 3, even though she was not able to orally take in food.

In footage taken on March 5, a day before she died, she was seen looking up and hardly moving, and she did not react even when an immigration official waved a hand in front of her face.

Her body was not moving in the following morning, but the officials did not call an ambulance until the afternoon of that day.

“They didn’t call an ambulance even though she was not responding. I felt anger,” said lawyer Shoichi Ibusuki, who saw the video. “Why didn’t they take action ordinarily taken by humans?”

In August, the Immigration Services Agency released an investigative report admitting medical care system flaws and disclosed some of the surveillance footage to the bereaved family.

Although the agency had offered another opportunity to watch the footage in September, the bereaved family side passed over the chance as the agency did not allow lawyers to be present.

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