Bahamas court: Japanese man with amnesia wrongly held for 8 years
NASSAU, Bahamas – A Japanese amnesiac who was kept in a Bahamas prison and an immigration center for eight years without being charged was held unlawfully, a court has ruled.Atain Takitota, 41, was awarded $500,000 “for the loss of eight years and two months” of his life, the Bahamas Court of Appeal ruled.Atain said he went to a casino in Paradise Island shortly after he arrived in the Bahamas in August 1992 from Osaka, Japan. After he lost between $7,000 and $8,000 gambling, he realized that his luggage, which held his passport and the rest of his money, had been stolen.Police arrested him that night, at first suspecting that he had tried to break into a vehicle and later believing that he was a vagrant. Authorities held Atain at two locations, including a maximum-security cell.”What is particularly troubling about this case is that not once during the entire eight-year period that the appellant was incarcerated was he taken before any court at any time,” the three-judge panel said in the ruling Thursday.The only reason immigration authorities gave for his detention was that he was “an undesirable and his presence was not conducive to the public good,” the judges said.Atain tried to commit suicide twice while in detention.Judges said medical staff at a rehabilitation center in Nassau determined he was suffering from retrograde amnesia – in which the memory loss relates to events that occurred before a traumatic event.Atain has testified that he was in a traffic accident about a year before he left Japan and had suffered head injuries, the judges said.It was not clear if Atain had known his identity, but the Japanese Embassy in the Dominican Republic said initial investigations in 1994 did not identify him as a Japanese citizen.Phone calls on Saturday to Atain’s attorney were not immediately returned. Calls to the Japanese Embassy in the Dominican Republic went unanswered.
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