Union Carbide

Greenpeace finds American wanted for Bhopal tragedy

Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles

Friday August 30, 2002

The former head of Union Carbide, Warren Anderson, who faces homicide charges in India in connection with more than 14,000 deaths following leaks from the company's pesticides plant in Bhopal in 1984, has been tracked down to his luxury home in the Hamptons on Long Island, New York.

Mr Anderson was served with a copy of a warrant for his arrest by an environmental campaigner and moves are now under way to bring him to India to face trial.

A member of Greenpeace USA confronted Mr Anderson at his home in Bridgehampton just after the former chief executive officer of Union Carbide had returned from his country club.

Initially Mr Anderson denied his identity, but when a passing neighbour called "Hi, Warren, is everything OK?", he fled into his house. He had no comment on the charges.

A court in Bhopal, central India, asked yesterday for extradition proceedings to be started to bring Mr Anderson to court. He is charged with culpable homicide, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

"He was not very happy to see me," said Casey Harrell, toxics campaigner for Greenpeace USA which has been involved for many years in seeking reparations for those affected by the leak. "He has been living a very high life."

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Mr Harrell said that he had confronted Mr Anderson as he hosed some gravel off his car after he returned from his club.

Mr Harrell served him with a copy of the original 1991 warrant of arrest from the Bhopal courts, which was essentially a symbolic gesture but means that Mr Anderson cannot say he is unaware of the charges. Mr Harrell said that he had informed the US state department, the justice department and the Indian embassy that Mr Anderson had been traced. It had earlier been reported that Mr Anderson's whereabouts was unknown.

Mr Harrell said that it was now essential that pressure be brought by the Indian government for Mr Anderson, who also has a home in Vero Beach, Florida, to be extradited to stand trial.

A spokesman for the US state department said yesterday that it did not comment on extradition proceedings, but it is understood that the Indian government has not yet initiated them.

The Indian embassy in Washington had no immediate comment.

It is believed that the Indian government may be reluctant to press for the extradition because it might alienate the American business community whose investment in India is seen as vital. Earlier this year, attempts were made by the Indian foreign ministry to reduce the charge to "hurt by negligence" which carries a maximum two-year sentence.

But Bhopal's chief magistrate, Rameshar Kotha, said in his order yesterday: "There is no sense in reducing the charges, since Warren Anderson, who has been declared an absconder and against whom a permanent arrest warrant has been issued, has not appeared in any court."

The leakage of methyl isocyanate gas and other chemicals in Bhopal on December 3 1984 killed 4,000 people within hours. Since then the death toll has risen to 14,410, according to the Indian government. Other estimates put the figure at 20,000.

Tens of thousands more still suffer from after-effects and have had problems in achieving compensation.

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5 Responses:

  1. pjammer says:

    Silly Greenpeace ... extradition for murdering citizens of another nation only works when US citizens are injured!

    (shakes head) Anderson is never going to see the inside of an Indian court, let alone a prison. "You can't arrest me ... I'm rich!"

  2. "tracked down to his luxury home in the Hamptons on Long Island, New York" Ummm... let me get this straight. He was hiding AT HOME? And it took how long to figure this out? Since 1991? That's one serious manhunt they got going there. He was undercover at his country club all this time... no wonder they couldn't find him.

    It becomes more and more clear to me that the definition of "guilty" in America appears to have a cutoff point at around a couple of million dollars.

  3. jwz says:

    I have a paper copy of this ad; it's dated "1962" on the back in pencil.

    • zapevaj says:

      You know, they could have chosen a slightly less symbolic color than blood-red to be pouring over India.

      Not to mention that the ad -reeks- of "white man's burden".