Seven former senior employees of Union Carbide’s Indian subsidiary were convicted today of “death by negligence” for their roles in the Bhopal gas tragedy which killed an estimated 15,000 people more than a quarter of a century ago.
The subsidiary company, Union Carbide India Ltd, was convicted of the same charge but the firm no longer exists.
The former employees face up to two years in prison.
On December 3 1984, a pesticide plant run by Union Carbide leaked tons of gas, killing about 4,000 people. Lingering effects raised the death toll to about 15,000, the government said.
There is likely to be appeal against the verdicts, which were given in a local court.
Large groups of survivors and relatives, along with rights activists, gathered in the city and chanted slogans, saying the verdict was too little, too late.
India’s Central Bureau of Investigation had originally accused 12 defendants: eight senior Indian company officials; Warren Anderson, the head of Union Carbide Corp at the time of the gas leak; the company itself and two subsidiary firms.
One of the Indian officials has since died. Those convicted today are mostly in their 70s. Anderson, and Union Carbide and its subsidiaries, have never appeared in court proceedings.
Union Carbide was bought by Dow Chemical in 2001. Dow said the legal case was resolved in 1989 when Union Carbide settled with the Indian government for $470m (€393m), and that all responsibility for the factory now rested with the government of the state of Madhya Pradesh, which now owns the site.