3 Ex-TEPCO Execs to Face Criminal Charges in Nuclear Crisis

July 31, 2015 Updated: December 13, 2015

TOKYO—A Japanese judicial committee has decided that three former utility executives should face criminal charges and stand trial for their alleged negligence in the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

A document released Friday showed the committee voted in favor of indicting Tsunehisa Katsumata, who was chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Co. 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.

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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.