This story should give every auto executive pause the next time he or she is faced with whether or not to issue a recall for a defective part. A court in Japan has ruled that a former head of Mitsubishi Motors is guilty of negligence that ultimately led to the death of a driver who was killed when his Mitsubishi truck crashed due to a faulty clutch housing that was never recalled. The court ruled that Katsuhiko Kawasoe (shown here in 2004 when he first faced these charges) and three other executives at the time had known about defective parts on its vehicles for decades and actively tried to conceal them or have them fixed in secret. Kawasoe and his three cohorts, who all plead not guilty, were given suspended sentences, so none will serve any jail time. Mitsubishi's recall scandal first came to light in 2000, since which other deaths have been attributed to the automaker's negligence. Last month another court in Yokohama found two other Mitsubishi execs guilty of the same crime, but this is the first time the head of an automaker has been convicted.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd, photo by JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty]