TOKYO -- A former president of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of professional negligence that prosecutors said had caused the death of a truck driver in 2002.
Separately, the troubled automaker renewed its promise to correct its culture of hiding vehicle defects as it aims to win back public trust ahead of the planned launch of the new Colt Plus model this month.
On the first day of the trial, Katsuhiko Kawasoe, 68, and one-time Mitsubishi Vice President Takashi Usami, 64, pleaded not guilty to allegations that they had concealed defects in the clutch system on certain truck models.
Kawasoe headed Mitsubishi until late 2000, when he stepped down to take responsibility for a scandal that laid bare the automaker's decades-long practice of hiding safety records and vehicle defects from authorities.
Prosecutors have alleged that the accident could have been avoided if the company had issued an open recall of the defective models instead of conducting secret repairs.
Two other former Mitsubishi executives pleaded guilty for their role in the case.
Conviction on the charges carries a prison sentence of up to five years or a maximum fine of $4,500.