A Japanese court on Friday ordered the Tokyo metropolitan government to pay damages of around 1 million yen ($7,500) over the 2017 death of a Nepalese man who was forcibly restrained while in police custody.

The Tokyo District Court determined that the authorities' failure to provide Arjun Bahadur Singh with proper treatment was illegal and that his death was caused by him being inappropriately fitted with restraining devices at a police station in the capital's Shinjuku Ward.

The Metropolitan Police Department is the local police force of Tokyo, and is under the control of the Tokyo Metropolitan Public Safety Commission.

Presiding Judge Chieko Fukuda ruled that Singh's death could have been avoided if police had taken him to a hospital after removing his restraints and seeing that his hands were swollen and reddish-black.

The officer's decision to prioritize taking him to prosecutors "was an overstepping of discretionary power," Fukuda said.

Singh, then 39, was arrested on March 14, 2017, on suspicion of stealing lost property and was secured with restraining equipment that bound his hands to his stomach the following day, according to the ruling.

Some of his restraints were removed, and he was escorted to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office the same day, but he fell unconscious during interrogation. He was subsequently taken to a hospital, where he was confirmed dead.

Lawyers for the family of a Nepalese man who died while under police custody hold a press conference in Tokyo on March 17, 2023. (Kyodo)

The bereaved family had sought 61.82 million yen in damages from the metropolitan government and the state.

Yoshihito Kawakami, a lawyer representing the bereaved family, said following the ruling that "illegal use of restraints will likely continue" to be a problem after the court dismissed the family's claim that they were used in a punitive manner.

The Metropolitan Police Department said it will review the ruling before deciding how to respond.

The treatment of foreigners at the hands of authorities in Japan has garnered significant attention recently, especially after the 2021 death of Ratnayake Liyanage Wishma Sandamali, a Sri Lankan woman, while in detention at an immigration center in central Japan.

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