Outrage over Bhopal convictions

Convictions
over a gas plant leak that killed thousands of people in 1984 in the Indian
city of Bhopal have been heavily criticised by campaigners.

Amnesty
International described the two-year sentences for eight people as “too
little, too late”.

The
convictions are the first since the disaster at the Union Carbide plant – the
world’s worst industrial accident.

The
eight Indians, all former plant employees, were convicted of “death by
negligence”.

One
was convicted posthumously. The others are expected to appeal.

Nityanand
Jayaraman, of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal campaign group
said the punishment imposed on Union Carbide was wholly inadequate.

“I
share the Bhopalis’ sense of outrage and betrayal,” he said.

Satinath
Sarangi, an activist campaigning on behalf of Bhopal victims said justice would
not be done until US executives from Union Carbide at the time of the incident
– including the company’s former head, Warren Anderson – were brought to India
to face justice.

“This
is not the justice that we have been waiting for, because the principal accused
– Warren Anderson, Union Carbide corporation USA – are not here,” he said.

Forty
tonnes of a toxin called methyl isocyanate leaked from the pesticide factory
and settled over slums in Bhopal on 3 December 1984.

Official
figures show at least 3,000 people died at the time and as many as 15,000 have
died since.

Campaigners
put the death toll as high as 25,000 and say the horrific effects of the gas
continue to this day.

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