A small step towards justice for Bhopal

Feature story - 28 August, 2002
Against many people's expectations a judge in Bhopal has rejected a request to lower the charges against corporate criminal Warren Anderson, former CEO of Union Carbide. Anderson is wanted in India to answer how the actions of Union Carbide contributed to the world's worst industrial disaster on the night of December 2/3rd 1984 when a toxic gas leak killed an estimated 20,000 people and left 120,000 people chronically ill.

Survivors display a poster calling for the extradition of Warren Anderson, former Chief Executive of Union Carbide, from the US.

Anderson was the CEO of Union Carbide at the time of the disaster and despite being charged with culpable homicide in the Indian courts he chooses to evade justice, for the last 18 years, in the US. He has been absent from all court hearings on the matter of the criminal liability for the Bhopal gas disaster.

The judge rejected the Indian Government's argument to reduce the charges to negligence which carries a much shorter sentence that the possible 20 years in jail Anderson could face if extradited to face charges in India. Ironically the judge rejected the plea because Anderson has not been present at any hearings and did not file the appeal himself. The Indian government is probably under pressure from the new owners of Union Carbide, Dow chemicals, and the US government to reduce the charges against Anderson because of the damage to Dow's image and the reputation of US corporations abroad.

Greenpeace campaigner Ganesh Nochur has been following developments "This judgement is very welcome. The case is at an important stage and we want the court to enforce timely implementation of the pending arrest warrant. Eighteen years is too long and justice is overdue!"

Bhopal is an ongoing disaster. One hundred twenty thousand people still face serious health problems and children born to survivors are also affected. The toxic chemicals abandoned in Bhopal by the chemical company have contaminated the groundwater that is used by thousands of people who live around the abandoned factory.