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Japan court acquits ex-TEPCO bosses over Fukushima disaster

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A Japanese court on Thursday acquitted three former power company executives of professional negligence in the only criminal prosecution stemming from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown.

The three men were senior officials at the TEPCO firm operating the Fukushima Daiichi plant and faced up to five years in prison if convicted.

“All defendants are not guilty,” the presiding judge announced to the Tokyo courtroom, where a woman in the gallery could be heard saying “unbelievable” as the verdict was pronounced.

The decision is likely to be appealed, extending the legal wrangling over responsibility for the disaster, more than eight years after the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

Outside the courtroom, dozens of people staged a rally, including some who had travelled from the Fukushima region to hear the verdict.

“I cannot accept this,” one woman said into a microphone, addressing the crowd.

The three former executives were accused of professional negligence resulting in death and injury by failing to act on information about the risks from a major tsunami, but they argued the data available to them at the time was unreliable.

The presiding judge said the verdict had turned on the “predictability” of the massive tsunami that swamped the........

© Asian Correspondent