A five-year prison sentence was handed down on Friday against a 90-year-old former senior official for a fatal car crash in Tokyo in 2019, ending a high-profile case that sparked debate over the place of elderly drivers on Japanese roads.
Neither defense attorney for Kozo Iizuka, former head of the former Industrial Science and Technology Agency, nor prosecutors appealed the September 2 decision of the Tokyo District Court before Friday’s deadline. .
The court ruled that Iizuka lit a red light after mistaking the accelerator pedal for the brake, hitting and killing 31-year-old Mana Matsunaga and her 3-year-old daughter Riko who were crossing a crosswalk in the neighborhood of ‘Ikebukuro in Tokyo on April 19, 2019. Nine others were injured in the incident.
âI am sorry for the bereaved families. I would like to accept the verdict, âsaid Iizuka on Wednesday, accused of negligent driving leading to death and injury, during his meeting with the head of a non-profit organization supporting the families of convicted or suspected offenders.
Prosecutors will now investigate whether Iizuka, who is unable to walk on his own and uses a wheelchair, will spend time behind bars, given his age and medical condition.
The Japanese Criminal Procedure Law allows the suspension of sentences for convicts aged 70 and over as well as for those who are at risk of serious damage to their health or death.
Iizuka had pleaded not guilty to the charge against him, claiming that a mechanical problem with the vehicle caused him to lose control.
However, the court determined that he held the accelerator pedal down for about 10 seconds mistaking it for the brake, causing the car to accelerate to a speed of up to 60 mph (96 km / h). He was found responsible for the fatal accident.
The court also found an appropriate five-year prison sentence for Iizuka, even taking into account his age.
The incident sparked debate on how to prevent crashes involving elderly drivers in rapidly aging Japan and prompted many elderly drivers to give up their licenses.
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