8 Jun 2010

Disbelief at two-year sentences for Bhopal executives

12:00 pm on 8 June 2010

Survivors of India's Bhopal gas disaster have expressed anguish and disbelief at the two-year sentences given to the senior executives found guilty over the leak.

The convictions of seven former employees - all of them Indian - at the Union Carbide pesticide plant come more than 25 years after the leak, which was the world's worst industrial accident.

Thousands of people died, both immediately and in the years that followed.

One woman whose daughter died says the executives have effectively been set free. An activist, Satinath Sarangi, says this is not the justice the survivors have been waiting for.

The charges were reduced by the Supreme Court in 1996 from culpable homicide to death by negligence, meaning the two-year sentence was the maximum possible.

American chairman not mentioned

It's the first time anyone has been found legally responsible for the disaster. Those convicted include the then head of Union Carbide in India; an eighth defendant originally charged is no longer alive.

Warren Anderson, the American who at the time was chairman of Union Carbide's US-based parent group, was originally charged as well. Later declared an "absconder" by the court, he was not mentioned in the verdict.