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Tokyo court clears former Tepco executives of negligence over Fukushima disaster

TOKYO (Reuters) — A Tokyo court cleared on Thursday three former Tokyo Electric Power executives of negligence for the 2011 Fukushima disaster, the only criminal case to arise out of the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.

Former Tepco Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and one-time executives Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro were all found not guilty by the Tokyo District Court.

A combination picture shows, from left, former Tokyo Electric Power Co. or TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and Ichiro Takekuro and Sakae Muto, former vice presidents of TEPCO, arriving at the Tokyo District Court for the first criminal trial over the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster in Tokyo, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo on June 30, 2017.  REUTERSA combination picture shows, from left, former Tokyo Electric Power Co. or TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and Ichiro Takekuro and Sakae Muto, former vice presidents of TEPCO, arriving at the Tokyo District Court for the first criminal trial over the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster in Tokyo, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo on June 30, 2017. REUTERS

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

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station, located about 220 km (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.