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Tokyo court upholds not guilty verdict for ex-Tepco execs over Fukushima disaster

Support group members of plaintiffs show off banners reading “All innocent. Wrongful judgment” after the The Tokyo High Court upheld a not guilty verdict for former Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) executives of negligence over the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power station disaster, in front of the court in Tokyo, Japan, January 18, 2023

TOKYO, Jan 18 (Reuters) – The Tokyo High Court on Wednesday upheld a not guilty criminal verdict by a lower court that cleared former Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) (9501.T) executives of negligence over the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power station disaster.

Former Tepco Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 82, and one-time executives Sakae Muto, 72, and Ichiro Takekuro, 77, were all found not guilty by the Tokyo District Court in 2019, in the only criminal case to arise out of the world’s worst nuclear crisis since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

The ruling on Wednesday to uphold the not guilty verdict sits at odds with a separate civil case brought to the Tokyo court by Tepco shareholders, which found four former executives responsible for the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Judges ordered the former executives to pay 13 trillion yen ($99.14 billion) in damages in the civil lawsuit. The court judged that the executives could have prevented the disaster if they had exercised due care. Criminal lawsuits in Japan are broadly interpreted to have a higher standard of proof than civil cases.

“I’m really surprised. Most other lawsuits have found that Tepco is guilty, so I can’t understand why the criminal court is the odd one out,” said Masako Sawai, who is part of a civil group accusing the former executives of negligence.

The trial, which started in June 2017, was conducted by state-appointed lawyers after prosecutors decided not to bring charges against the Tepco executives.

“We are aware that there is an ongoing lawsuit over the criminal responsibility of three former executives regarding the nuclear disaster, but we will refrain from commenting on the case,” a spokesperson for Tepco said.

The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear station, located about 220 kilometres (130 miles) northeast of Tokyo, was rocked by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011, sparking three reactor meltdowns and prompting Japan to shut down its entire fleet of nuclear reactors.

January 20, 2023 - Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , ,

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