(EnviroNews World News) — Tokyo, Japan — Nearly five years in to what has unfurled as arguably the worst manmade environmental catastrophe in history, Japanese prosecutors are set to hand down the first criminal indictments over the nuclear reactor meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi.
Former Chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Tsunehisa Katsumata, and two former Vice Presidents, Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro, face mandatory indictments after a randomly selected citizen prosecution inquest panel voted for the charges last July.
A group of five independent lawyers appointed by the Tokyo District Court will prosecute the case, and announced on Friday February 26, 2016, that the indictments were imminent and will likely be executed as early as Monday.
Prosecution committees had failed twice to indict the men in the past, citing a lack of evidence in each circumstance — but when the case was put in front of a citizen judicial panel, the people said not so fast.
The three former bosses will be charged with “professional negligence resulting in death and injuries,” according to NHK which broke the story. NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai) is Japan’s only public television broadcaster.
The case got started shortly after the disaster’s inception when 14,000 citizens filed a lawsuit against TEPCO officials, claiming company bosses ignored research that displayed the danger tsunamis posed to the now-crippled plant.
“The victims of TEPCO’s man-made nuclear disaster have been demanding transparency, have been demanding disclosure and unfortunately they’ve been given neither by the utility. So this is a big step down the road of justice for the Fukushima victims,” Kendra Ulrich, Senior Global Energy Campaigner for the Greenpeace told Voice of America (VOA).
Friday’s announcement to indict the three former executives came only two days on the heels of a bombshell statement from TEPCO, wherein the company apologized and admitted in a press release that it lied to the Japanese public and the world for two months following the 3/11/11 cataclysm, withholding the fact that the plant had suffered three full-blown meltdowns.
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