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Utility executives to face Fukushima nuclear disaster trial

Published 31/07/2015

The damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan (AP)
The damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan (AP)
Fukushima nuclear plant
Helicopters scoop water off Japan's north-east coast on their way to the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant (AP)
A Chinook scoops water from the ocean on its way to the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant (Yomiuri Shimbun/Kenji Shimizu)
Thick while smoke billows from the No 3 unit of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan (AP/Tokyo Electric Power)
Smoke rises from the No 3 unit at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in Okumamachi, north-eastern Japan (AP)
The unit 3 reactor was damaged by explosions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, northeastern Japan (AP)
Debris is littered in the compounds of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex (AP)
Damage following an earthquake and tsunami to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan (AP)
A young evacuee is screened for leaked radiation from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant (AP)
Anti-nuclear protests were held in the UK in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster

Three former utility executives should face criminal charges and stand trial for their alleged negligence in the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a Japanese judicial committee has ruled.

Documents showed the committee voted in favour of indicting Tsunehisa Katsumata, who was chairman of Tokyo Electric Power at the time of the crisis, along with two other former executives.

The 11-member committee's second decision supporting the indictment overrides Tokyo prosecutors' two earlier decisions to drop the case, forcing the three men to be charged with professional negligence. It will be the first criminal case from the nuclear disaster to be tried in court.

The committee said the three men neglected to take sufficient measures even though they were fully aware of the risk of a major tsunami at the Fukushima plant.

It said they should be charged with professional negligence resulting in death and injury during the accident and its aftermath, including the deaths of dozens of senior citizens in a hospital who died during and after the lengthy evacuation.

The Tokyo District Court will now choose a team of lawyers to act as prosecutors to formally press charges in court.

Three reactors had meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, triggering massive radiation leaks that forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate.

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