Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Disaster convictions - Bhopal etc

The eight Indians convicted for their part in the Bhopal disaster have all been sentenced to two years in prison, though one will not serve his time as he died during the 25 years the victims waited for justice. Campaigners such as Amnesty International and the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal have condemned the sentences as completely inadequate.

This feeling is not unusual. A fire in a supermarket in the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion in 2004 killed 432 people, wiping out many whole families. It was alleged that fire exits had been locked, and the two owners and a security guard were put on trial.

In 2006, they were all sentenced to five years in prison, but families of the victims were enraged, and rioted. Two years later, the Supreme Court declared the sentences for the owners too lenient and increased them to ten and twelve years, but hundreds still protested.

After the Egyptian ferry, the al-Salam Boccaccio 98 , sank following a fire on board with the loss of more than 1,000 lives in 2006, an official inquiry concluded that she did not have enough lifeboats and that fire-fighting equipment had been inadequate. The owner and two other people were convicted, but all of them had left the country before the trial. For the full story, see A Disastrous History of the World.

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