Japan’s Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of two jailers for murdering a prisoner by discharging a fire hose into his rectum – not that they will be going to jail themselves, as both had been given suspended sentences.
The original incident occurred in 2001 in Nagoya Prison. Two jailers sought to punish one of the inmates under their control. They had him drop his drawers and lie down, at which point they discharged a fire hose into his anus.
The prisoner died the next day from septic shock as a result of the rectal injuries he sustained in the attack.
They were soon prosecuted, though for “abuse of civil service authority resulting in death or injury” rather than murder, a crime which on paper carries heavier sentences than its ordinary equivalent of manslaughter, with a maximum of 15 years imprisonment.
They were found guilty despite their arguments that it was only “an act of punishment,” with one sentenced to a 3 year prison sentence sentence suspended for 4 years, and the other to 14 months suspended for 3 years, meaning both escaped actual prison time.
Their next move was to appeal the verdict, but this backfired and the new verdict actually resulted in slightly harsher sentences of 3 years suspended for 5 years and 18 months suspended for 3 years.
They appealed this as well, eventually resulting in the Supreme Court’s latest verdict, which dismissed the appeal and upheld the heavier sentences.
As both men are civil servants and have now been convicted of a crime, the state is now legally obliged to fire them, apparently the most severe punishment they will ever face.
The same prison was found at fault in 2002 after two prisoners died from being improperly restrained (the accused guards insist they “fell down” and are currently appealing), and has also been criticised by Amnesty International for conducting group strip searches of inmates.