TOKYO (AP) _ Five former executives of Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors Corp. were formally charged Thursday in connection with a cover up of a design flaw that caused a wheel to fly off a truck and kill a pedestrian.

Three executives _ including Takashi Usami, 63, who was vice president at Mitsubishi Motors when the January 2002 accident occurred _ were charged with violating transportation laws, an official at the Yokohama public prosecutor's office said on condition of anonymity. The three allegedly falsified data submitted to industry regulators to cover up the vehicle defects.

Another two former executives, including Hiroshi Murakawa, former head of quality control at Mitsubishi Motors, were charged with administrative negligence resulting in death, the official said.

Two other company officials arrested along with the group earlier this month were not charged for lack of evidence, he said.

Mitsubishi Motor's truck-making affiliate, Mitsubishi Fuso, said in a statement that it takes the indictment of its former employees ``very seriously'' and pledged to improve its quality measures.

Mitsubishi Motors spun off Mitsubishi Fuso in January 2003. Both companies have been involved in the probes of wheel-separation accidents dating back more than a decade.

Company officials had blamed poor maintenance for accidents caused by wheels falling off Mitsubishi trucks, even though some were allegedly aware of defects.

In March, two years after the fatal accident, Mitsubishi Fuso acknowledged that design flaws in its wheel hubs could have led to accidents and began recalling some 220,000 vehicles.

German-American automaker DaimlerChrysler owns 65 percent of Mitsubishi Fuso, Mitsubishi Motors holds 20 percent and other companies in the Mitsubishi business group have 10 percent.