• Kyodo

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The Nagasaki District Court handed a welder a suspended 18-month prison term Wednesday for carelessness that resulted in a fire aboard a luxury liner at a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. shipyard in Nagasaki in 2002.

Takayuki Arikawa, 53, was electric-welding brackets for ceiling pipes under Cabin 320 on the No. 5 deck of the 113,000-ton Diamond Princess on Oct. 1, 2002.

The ship had been launched and was undergoing finishing work in Nagasaki.

Due to the excessive heat in the ceiling caused by the welding, furniture in the cabin above caught fire, and the blaze spread and destroyed about 40 percent of the vessel.

Prosecutors had demanded an 18-month prison term for the defendant, who had pleaded guilty.

After the fire, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries rebuilt the liner and renamed it the Sapphire Princess. The company plans to deliver it to the British shipping company P&O Princess Cruises PLC in May.

Police had sent papers to prosecutors on six other Mitsubishi employees but the welder was the only one charged.

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