Three senior managers at Japanese utility Tepco have been indicted by a civilian judiciary panel to face criminal charges in relation to the Fukushima nuclear power plant incident in March 2011.

In a statement, an independent review panel of 11 lay people accused the former Tepco officials for failing to take any “effective measures” and “turning a blind eye” to the possibility of an earthquake triggering a serious nuclear accident.
Fukushima decommissioning
They have forced the prosecutor to go ahead with the indictment although Reuters reports Japanese legal experts as saying the individuals are unlikely to be on the receiving end to a guilty verdict.

The three senior managers who will stand trial are former chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 75, and former executives Sakae Muto, 65, and Ichiro Takekuro, 69.

In a statement, the panel accused the officials of prioritising on economic arguments over safety, saying they “had a responsibility to prepare for the remote possibility of an accident occurring from a tsunami.”

Citizens’ groups welcomed the decision after prosecutors twice decided not to indict the three former Tepco officials. The review panel overruled the prosecutor’s decision on Friday.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant suffered a number of explosions and partial meltdown following an earthquake and tsunami hit the country in March 2011.

“If proper action had been taken, it would have been sufficiently possible to prevent this critical and brutal accident from occurring,” the statement concluded.

Tepco declined to comment on the judiciary panel’s decision. But the utility said it would continue to make efforts to strengthen the safety of its nuclear plants.