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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 September, 2003, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
Japan prisoner 'feared for life'
Patrick Loughlin
Mr Loughlin claimed he was tortured and beaten
A man who spent four years in a Japanese prison for a crime he says he did not commit feared he would not survive his ordeal.

Patrick Loughlin, from Penley, near Wrexham, spoke out on Wednesday following his release last week from Nagoya Prison, in Osaka after serving his four-year sentence.

On the same day it was revealed that the deputy chief warden at the prison has been indicted on charges of fatally assaulting another prisoner.

It was also reported in the Japanese media that this is the third time prosecutors have charged prison staff over allegations of fatal violence against inmates, with six wardens facing charges over two other inmates' deaths.

Mr Loughlin, 34, had been working in Kariya, Japan for five years, as an English teacher. But on 31 October, 1999, a friend of his - Ruji Jinnai - died accidentally following a brawl in a local bar.

He has always maintained he was not responsible for the crime and says his solicitor, who did not speak English, entered a guilty plea on his behalf.

Throughout his imprisonment Mr Loughlin has claimed he was tortured, beaten and had letters from his family withheld by the Japanese authorities.

I have to go and see the doctor, I don't feel good, I get tired very quickly but I'm alive
Patrick Loughlin

Looking gaunt and thin, a nervous Mr Loughlin faced the media on Wednesday for the first time.

He spoke slowly and at times found it difficult to find the words to express himself.

"It's strange being back," he said.

"I haven't been to see my friends or go shopping.

"I have to go and see the doctor, I don't feel good, I get tired very quickly but I'm alive," he added.

The only foreigner in the Japanese bar when the fateful fight broke out, Mr Loughlin was arrested following the tragedy.

"I was only ever interested in protecting myself," he said.

"I didn't know what happened [to my friend] until the police questioned me."

Patrick Loughlin and his mother Kathleen
Mr Loughlin answered media questions in Wrexham
Mr Loughlin, who lived in Japan for five years and married a Japanese woman alleged he was beaten in prison.

"You get to a point when you've been locked up...when you don't really care about things, I just kind have blocked everything out.

"I was terrified for my life, I thought they'd go too far one day."

His appeal against the conviction was turned down in October 2001 by the Japanese Supreme Court.

Amnesty International, which investigates cases of ill treatment in prisons throughout the world, has urged the Japanese authorities to initiate an independent investigation of Nagoya Prison.

It said: "Japan should ensure that the rights of all prisoners and detainees - as guaranteed in international human rights standards to which Japan is a state party - are protected."

The previous month his parents Robert and Kathleen Loughlin had been joined by their MP Martyn Jones in a meeting with Foreign Office Minister Baroness Amos to press his case.

However, Mr Loughlin, who will celebrate his birthday next month, criticised the Foreign Office.

"I'm pretty much disgusted at what the Foreign Office has done.

"I'd be telling the consulate one thing in Japan and then they'd tell my parents something else.

Future

"They never believed one thing I said," he added.

Mr Loughlin said he does not know what the future holds for him and he has not ruled out a return to Japan.

"I haven't got a clue what I'll do, I've come back to this country and there's so much technology here, I'm going to be clueless until I catch up.

"I've got a few friends in Japan who tried to help me, I'd like to see those people but I'd never stay there longer than a week."




SEE ALSO:
Japan jail man speaks out
10 Sep 03  |  Wales
Family reunion for freed prisoner
06 Sep 03  |  North East Wales
Release for Japan prisoner
04 Sep 03  |  North East Wales


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