A Japanese court on Thursday convicted two former Mitsubishi Motors officials of negligence resulting in death over truck defects that caused a fatal accident.

According to Agence France Press (AFP), the Yokohama District Court handed 18-month prison sentences, suspended for three years, to Hiroshi Murakawa, who was in charge of quality control, and Hirotoshi Miki, a former section chief.

"They assume great responsibility for leaving defects in vehicles and causing accidents," presiding judge Nobuyuki Kiguchi was quoted as saying.

The case was brought over a 2002 accident in which a 29-year-old woman was killed and her two sons injured by a tyre that came off a moving trailer truck in Yokohama southwest of Tokyo, the news agency noted.

The court reportedly said the two men knew of the defects after seeing a number of other accidents involving Mitsubishi trucks.

The court also found that the two men could have suspected the weakness of the wheel hubs on Mitsubishi trucks, but filed false reports to the transport ministry claiming that there were no defects.

Prosecutors had argued that their failure to report the defects resulted in the tyre coming off, killing the woman and injuring her children, AFP said.

The men "could have played leading roles at corporate meetings to suggest recalls," the judge said.

The two men, who had pleaded not guilty, immediately appealed the ruling, Agence France Press (AFP) added.