Charges near for former TEPCO executives over Fukushima nuclear disaster

From Asahi Shimbun

February 26, 2016

Lawyers on Feb. 29 are expected to indict three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. on charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injury in connection with the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The indictment mandated by a citizens panel will be filed at the Tokyo District Court by lawyers serving as prosecutors.

Tsunehisa Katsumata, a 75-year-old former TEPCO chairman, and two former vice presidents, Sakae Muto, 65, and Ichiro Takekuro, 69, led the utility when the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, triggered the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The indictment will say the three former executives were aware that such a large tsunami could strike the coast of the Tohoku region, but they did not take measures to protect the nuclear plant.

The indictment will also argue that their failure to carry out their professional duties led to the deaths of patients at hospitals in mandatory evacuation zones as well as injuries to other residents during the evacuation.

A criminal complaint was filed against the three former executives by residents and citizens groups.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office in September 2013 decided not to indict the former executives, saying it was difficult for TEPCO to forecast such a large-scale natural disaster hitting the nuclear plant.

However, the Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution in July 2014 overrode the prosecutors’ decision, and sent the case back to them for a further look.

But the prosecutors again decided not to indict the three.

The citizens panel in July 2015 again overrode the decision, saying the three former executives should face mandatory indictment and be tried in court.

Court-appointed lawyers will serve as the prosecutors in the trial.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201602260087

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Japanese prosecutors refuse to charge TEPCO executives in nuclear disaster

From  Phys.org, January 22, 2015
Fukushima executives to be spared charges over nuclear disaster

Japanese prosecutors said Thursday that executives in charge of the Fukushima nuclear plant will not be charged, setting up a possible showdown with a citizens’ panel that wants someone brought to book for the disaster.

The move is the latest in a tussle between legal authorities and an angry public over who should take responsibility for the tsunami-sparked reactor meltdowns in 2011 that forced tens of thousands from their homes.

A parliamentary report has said Fukushima was a man-made disaster caused by Japan’s culture of “reflexive obedience”, but no one has been punished criminally.

“We conclude that there is not enough evidence to suggest that Tokyo Electic executives could have predicted or could have avoided (the accident),” said Ryoichi Nakahara, deputy chief prosecutor of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office.

He said prosecutors had questioned a wider group of experts following the July panel ruling but reached the same conclusion.

Under Japanese law, if the judicial review panel challenges that decision a second time, a group of court-appointed lawyers would then be compelled to press charges.

The three are former chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, then-vice president Sakae Muto and former vice president Ichiro Takekuro.

Campaigners have called for about three dozen company officials to be held accountable for their failure to take proper measures to protect the site against the tsunami, which sparked the worst atomic crisis in a generation.

Source:
http://phys.org/news/2015-01-fukushima-nuclear-disaster.html

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