Mitsubishi duo guilty over faults

Two ex-Mitsubishi members of staff have been found guilty of professional negligence over the death of a woman crushed by a wheel falling off a truck.

The Mitsubishi Fuso truck model was later recalled by the Japanese firm.

Hiroshi Murakawa, 61, and Hirotoshi Miki, 59, had been overseeing quality control at Mitsubishi Motors. In 2004 the firm revealed a series of faults.

Yokohama District Court gave the pair 18-month prison sentences, suspended for three years.

In the tyre incident in January 2002, 29-year-old Shiho Okamoto, a housewife, was walking with her two children when she was crushed to death by a wheel that rolled off a Mitsubishi truck.

Her two boys were also left injured.

“We pray for the soul of the person who has died and apologize from the bottom of our hearts for her family,” Mitsubishi Trucks said in a statement.

Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corporation is now 85%-owned by Daimler AG of Germany.

A year ago three executives of the firm were allowed to walk free from court after being charged with allegedly covering up design faults in the trucks.

Prosecutors claimed the three executives had falsified defect reports on wheel parts, and avoided vehicle recalls.

Mitsubishi revealed in 2004 that it had failed to announce vehicle faults it had known about for four years, sending sales of its cars into decline.

The revelations forced the manufacturer to announce recalls to repair the defects, along with other faulty components – including the brakes, fuel system, clutch system, doors and engines.

Among the defects were parts that connected the wheel to the truck model in the 2002 accident.

Faults with the company’s trucks have been linked to other fatal accidents.

The fall-out from the scandal pushed the firm into the red and forced it to plead for rescue funds from its affiliates.

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