Times of India: After 25 years, Bhopal tragedy verdict on Jun 7

 After 25 years, Bhopal tragedy verdict on Jun 7

Times of India –

BHOPAL: Twenty five years after the December 3, 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, a local court will issue verdict on June 7 against the Union Carbide and other respondents in the case.

CBI had chargesheeted Union Carbide Corporation, Union Carbide (India) Limited, Union Carbide (Eastern) Hong Kong, UCC chairman Warren Anderson and eight Indian officials for the tragedy on December 1, 1987. Thousands of people were killed in the gas poisoning.

Of all the accused, only the Indian officials and Union Carbide (India) Limited faced trial in the Bhopal court. The others including Anderson, Union Carbide Corporation and Union Carbide (Eastern) Hong Kong are absconding. Despite repeated demands by the gas victims, the government failed to extradite Anderson from the US. The Bhopal court had last issued a warrant against Anderson on July 22, 2009.

Chief judicial magistrate Mohan P Tiwari’s verdict comes after the court under several other magistrates had cross-examined 178 witnesses and examined 3,008 documents, audio and video tapes during the past 23 years. On Thursday, arguments by CBI and the defence ended.

For victims, the judgment is meaningless as it was not going to bring any of the main accused to book. “We’ve been betrayed so many times that the verdict fails to interest us,” said Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sangathan convener Abdul Jabbar.

He said government had decided to drop criminal charges without taking the victims into confidence in 1989. “We approached SC and on October 3, 1991 the SC directed that the criminal case cannot be dropped.”

He said the original charge under section 304 (II) was serious and could have ensured an imprisonment up to 10 years. “But on September 13, 1996 SC reduced the charges against the eight Indian officials to 304 (A) which is death by negligence. The maximum punishment that we can expect for eight accused is up to two years imprisonment and Rs 5,000 fine,” he said.

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