National / Crime & Legal

Tokyo High Court acquits three over fatal elevator accident

Kyodo

The Tokyo High Court on Wednesday acquitted an elevator maintenance company chairman and two others over a 2006 accident that killed a 16-year-old boy, scrapping a lower court ruling.

SEC Elevator Co. Chairman Takao Suzuki, 74, President Hiroshi Nishimura, 58, and Kunio Nemoto, 71, who headed a maintenance section of the company, had previously been given suspended prison terms.

“There is no evidence showing that an abnormal abrasion of the braking system, the cause of the accident, had already occurred by the time an SEC worker checked (the elevator) on May 25, 2006, before the accident,” the high court’s presiding Judge Yasuhiro Akiba said in handing down the ruling.

The ruling came after the acquittal of a maintenance official at Schindler Elevator K.K., which made the elevator, was finalized in February.

Hirosuke Ichikawa was killed in an accident on June 3, 2006, at a housing complex in Tokyo’s Minato Ward. While getting off the elevator, it suddenly began to ascend with its doors still open, fatally crushing him in the door frame.

The Tokyo District Court, in September 2015, ruled that the three defendants had overlooked the abnormality that led to the accident and sentenced Suzuki and Nishimura to 18 months in prison, suspended for three years, and gave Nemoto a 14-month term, also suspended for three years.

Ichikawa’s family separately filed a civil suit in 2008 seeking damages from the companies and others including Minato Ward, which owns the building. The parties reached a settlement in November 2017.