Narita airport guards ordered to pay for assaulting Tunisians
The Tokyo District Court ordered a security firm and three of its guards on Thursday to pay damages to two Tunisian men for assault and extorting money after they were denied entry into Japan at Narita airport in 2000.
The plaintiffs, Thameur Mouez and Thameur Hichem, arrived in Japan on a Turkish Airlines flight in June 2000 but were denied entry primarily for having little money in their possession, according to the court ruling.
They were then transported to the landing prevention facility within the airport.
Security guards employed by security firm I'M Co demanded that the Tunisians pay a total of $600 to cover the costs of food and boarding, the ruling said. When the two rejected, the guards assaulted them, slamming their heads against a wall, it said.
Their case was taken up by Amnesty International in its 2001 annual report. The human rights group said the two Tunisians were hit on the face, held down, kicked and denied medical attention while they were under detention.
The two men filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court in August 2001, seeking 7.2 million yen in damages from the state, Turkish Airlines, I'M Co, which is based in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, and the guards.
The two men told a news conference in Tokyo after filing the lawsuit that they were asked to agree in writing to keep silent about the assault and extortion in exchange for reimbursement of the money taken from them.
The court ordered I'M and the security guards to pay 2.2 million yen in damages. The court assessed no liability against the state and the airline.
In delivering the ruling, Presiding Judge Takaomi Takizawa acknowledged a statement of the plaintiffs about the assault and said, "It cannot be denied they were forced to pay money."
According to I'M, the company provides security services for several airlines at Narita International Airport. (Kyodo News)
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