India's Supreme Court refuses Bhopal case reopening
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India’s Supreme Court rejected a government request on Wednesday to reopen the 1984 Bhopal gas case in order to punish seven men convicted in the disaster more severely.
A leak at a United Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, exposed thousands of locals to toxic gas. The Indian government says 3,500 people died in the days following the leak.
Seven executives at the factory were convicted of negligence last June and were handed two year sentences.
Public outrage at the perceived brevity of the sentences prompted the government to file a petition, which wanted a new trial on the charge of “culpable homicide not amounting to murder”. This offence carries a 10 year prison sentence.
Campaigners say as many as 25,000 people have died as a result of the tragedy, which ranks as one of the worst industrial disasters of all time.
Victims groups expressed their disappointment with the Court’s ruling.
“The verdict comes as a shock for all the victims,” Balkrishna Namdeo, a member of the Bhopal Gas Victims’ Association, said in Bhopal on Wednesday.
“Every victim of the Bhopal gas leak is upset and angry today and we will express our anger across India,” he added.
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