Taxi driver gets 5 1/2-year prison term for fatal crash into hospital

A court sentenced a taxi driver Wednesday to five years and six months in prison for ramming his car into a hospital in Fukuoka in 2016, leaving three people dead and seven injured.
The Fukuoka District Court dismissed defendant Tatsuo Matsuoka's argument that he should be acquitted of professional negligence resulting in death as his taxi's brakes failed.
In handing down the ruling, Presiding Judge Koji Hiratsuka said the court "can strongly infer" that Matsuoka, 66, mistakenly applied the gas pedal instead of the brake, based on data automatically recorded by an onboard device.
The prosecutors had sought a seven-year prison term, claiming there were no signs of braking and the vehicle had no abnormality.
According to the ruling, on Dec 3, 2016, the taxi driven by Matsuoka, traveling at 86 kilometers per hour and without any passengers, slammed into the hospital in Hakata Ward around 5 p.m., hitting 10 people.
Kazuyuki Endo, 53, an inpatient at the hospital, and two acquaintances, Moriyuki Hanada and his wife Misayo, both 44, were killed.
Endo's wife issued a statement after the ruling, saying, "I wouldn't have been convinced if he had been acquitted after causing such a fatal accident. I was relieved by the ruling."

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