KOBE – Lawyers filed an appeal Monday with the Osaka High Court, seeking to reverse a verdict that found three former presidents of West Japan Railway Co. not guilty of professional negligence in connection with the 2005 Amagasaki derailment that claimed 107 lives.
The three court-appointed lawyers, who served as prosecutors under a special criminal trial system, said they decided to appeal the Sept. 27 decision by the Kobe District Court after discussing the matter with survivors and next of kin of the fatalities.
Shin Kawase, one of the lawyers, has criticized the district court’s decision for giving more consideration to JR West’s situation than the lives of people caught up in the April 25, 2005, derailment.
The focal point of the trial was whether the three defendants — Masataka Ide, Shojiro Nanya and Takeshi Kakiuchi — should have foreseen the derailment risk at the accident site, which was on a sharp curve, and installed an automatic train stop system there.
The Kobe District Court ruled that JR West did not have an obligation to install the ATS system at that time and couldn’t have foreseen a derailment. The court said the driver, who was killed in the crash, was at fault as he was too slow to brake at the sharp bend on the Fukuchiyama Line in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture.
The train was going 116 kph when it entered the curve, which had a recommended track speed of under 70 kph. It derailed and two of the seven cars crashed into a condominium building.
The driver failed to slow down, and it was believed he was trying to make up for a timetable delay caused by his overshooting the platform at the preceding station.
The lawyers said the court failed to respond to the indictment by the lawyers, who argued that both incidents resulted from the railway’s focus on profits and its punitive approach toward its drivers if they ran late.