"India Reopens Bhopal Toxic Gas Leak Case"

"India's supreme court has reopened the Bhopal  toxic gas leak case in response to a government petition seeking harsher punishment for officials from Union Carbide, the chemical company responsible.

In a decision that delighted the long-running campaign for justice by the survivors of the 1984 gas disaster, India's highest court today agreed to review its earlier decision that reduced the crime from one of "culpable homicide" to "a rash and negligent act".

Because of the lighter charges, seven Union Carbide officials received just two-year prison sentences when the court case finally concluded in June this year – 25 years after the accident, which the government says killed around 3,500 people. Activists say at least 22,000 died in the immediate aftermath and the following years.

The sentences led to a national outcry, forcing Delhi to tell the federal police, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), to ask the court for more stringent charges with punishment of up to 10 years in jail."

Maseeh Rahman reports from Delhi for the UK Guardian August 31, 2010.

Source: Guardian, 09/01/2010