After 18 years, Bhopal gas victims win legal battle against Corporate Criminal Warren Anderson

Press release - 28 August, 2002
The judgement by a Bhopal Court to reject the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) plea to dilute charges against prime accused Warren Anderson - former CEO of Union Carbide responsible for the disastrous gas leak - is a victory for the victims of the Bhopal Union Carbide Gas disaster of 1984.

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

The long battle for getting the guilty punished took an important step towards justice when the Court rejected CBI's plea for reducing the charges against Warren Anderson, who hides in the US after jumping bail in India. He has been absconding from India and has been absent from all hearings pertaining to the matter of the criminal liability for the Bhopal gas disaster.

"This judgement is very welcome. The case is at an important stage and we want the Honourable Court to enforce timely implementation of the pending arrest warrant. Eighteen years is too long and justice is overdue," said Ganesh Nochur, Campaigns Director of Greenpeace India.

This most horrendous event caused by the leak of poisonous gases from the Union Carbide factory in 1984 has caused an estimated 20,000 deaths to date and the victims toll is increasing every day. This disaster continues to cause illness and death and the plant still leaches toxic substances into the surrounding area. This disaster continues to create fresh victims and has not yet been tackled by the company or the authorities.

"The court has rejected the plea presented by the CBI for the dilution of charges against Anderson and has come to the conclusion that the case against him is for culpable homicide," said Raj Punjwani, the Indian lawyer who has legally represented the victims of Bhopal during the judgement.

The Bhopal Case has been pending before the courts for many years. There has been no move to extradite Anderson although there is an Interpol alert on him. "The CBI has been late in pursuing his arrest and extradition and the government of India has been very lenient on the guilty and has been bending over backwards to please big multinational corporations like Dow/UC, " Nochur added.

This decision comes at the same time when Greenpeace is releasing a set of principles called the Bhopal Principles on Corporate Accountability at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg and the keystone of the document is that disasters like Bhopal should never be allowed to happen (1). Corporations should be held liable in all those instances where their activities have caused environmental or property damage or personal injury.

AaCcTt -Action Against Corporate Crime and Toxic Terror- a coalition of movements fighting to get justice Bhopal gas victims have welcomed the decision and calls for the arrest and extradition of Warren Anderson to India to face the court. Rashida Bi, a survivor of the Bhopal gas disaster and convenor of the Bhopal Gas Victims Women's Stationery Association said, "Our battle has succeeded and we have to continue the fight to bring Andersen to court and punish the guilty. Bhopal should never happen again."

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.

Greenpeace and Bhopal survivors are calling on Dow Chemical - now Union Carbide's owner - to clean up the factory site at its expense as would be required in the U.S., to secure long- term medical treatment facilities and medical rehabilitation for the survivors of the poisonous gas leak, to ensure economic compensation for the gas-affected people and their families, and to provide clean drinking water to communities that are forced to consume contaminated groundwater.

Notes: (1) Greenpeace report on corporate crimes: