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Indian newspapers outraged by Bhopal verdict

Des victimes de la catastrophe de Bhopal de 1984 manifestent devant le tribunal où huit personnes sont jugées ce 7 juin.
Des victimes de la catastrophe de Bhopal de 1984 manifestent devant le tribunal où huit personnes sont jugées ce 7 juin. Reuters

The two-year prison terms handed down to the local managers of the company blamed for the 1984 Bhopal gas leak disaster sparked outrage in Indian newspapers on Tuesday. Indian media have especially directed their criticisms to the 25-year delay in the convictions and the perceived leniency of the sentences.

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The eight managers involved in the industrial accident were sentenced to two years of prison on Monday after the Indian Supreme Court convicted them of death by negligence.

“Shame on India” headlined the tabloid Mail Today, while the front page of the Times of India read “Justice Delayed, Denied”.

Many papers expressed particular frustration over the feeling that Warren Anderson, the then-chief executive of the US parent group Union Carbide, has fled.

The former executive lives in suburban New York.

The Hindustan Times blamed the Indian government for allowing him “to live a life of ease far away in the US while the victims struggle from day to day.”

Amnesty International’s global issues director Audrey Gaughram said “the Indian employees have now been tried and convicted, (but) the foreign accused have been able to evade justice simply by remaining abroad”.

The prosecution argued that there were design defects and criminally negligent operational practices that were known to management but ignored for commercial reasons.

In a 7 June statement, the company Dow Chemical,

which bought Union Carbide India Ltd. in 1999, said the appropriate people had faced trial. They add the US executives were not involved in the day to day running of the company Union Carbide when the accident occurred.

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