Japan ordered to pay damages over death of detained Cameroon man

A Japanese court has ordered the government to pay damages over the death of a Cameroonian man who complained of ill health while being detained at an immigration center north of Tokyo.

The Mito District Court ruled on Friday that the center's staff was negligent in the case and ordered the government to pay damages worth 1.65 million yen, or about 11,500 dollars, to the plaintiff, who is his mother.

The man was detained at the Higashi-Nihon Immigration Center in Ushiku City, Ibaraki Prefecture, in 2013 while applying for asylum status in Japan. The 43-year-old man died after being rushed to a hospital in March 2014.

His mother sued the Japanese government for its failure to provide him necessary medical treatment, including calling an ambulance, even though he had asked for help due to his poor condition. She demanded compensation worth 10 million yen, or about 70,000 dollars.

The government called for the dismissal of the case, claiming it was difficult for the immigration center staff to assess the necessity of emergency transportation to a hospital as they lacked the necessary expertise.

According to Immigration Services Agency records, the man told the staff he was diabetic and received medication at the center.

He claimed of ill health, such as stomach aches and difficulty walking, in February and March 2014. Three days before his death on March 27, he complained he couldn't even stand as he felt ill.

A doctor gave him a blood test on the day. The doctor reportedly said the man needed to be referred to an outside hospital depending on the test result.

The records show that on the day before his death, he complained of chest pains and sleeplessness. Security video on the day show him saying, "I'm dying," and falling out of bed.

In Friday's ruling, presiding judge Abe Masahiko said the center staff should have called an ambulance the night before the man's death at the latest. He judged their actions negligent as they called an ambulance only after discovering the next morning he had no vital signs.

The judge, however, denied the direct relation between the man's death and the staff's negligence, saying it is not clear whether he could have survived if the staff had not been negligent.