An international environmental group stepped up calls Friday for the United
States government to ensure that the former chairman of Union Carbide Corporation
(UCC) is arrested and extradited to face charges of "culpable homicide" in India.
announced last week that it had located the whereabouts of Warren Anderson, who
headed a UCC pesticides plant in the central Indian city of Bhopal which was the
site of one of the world's worst industrial disasters.
The group--which along with other local groups in India, has been campaigning
for justice on behalf of some 20,000 people still suffering from the effects of
the Methyl Isocyanate spill in 1984--notified the U.S. state department last week
that it had traced Anderson to a residence in New York state, following its joint
investigation with the British Daily Mirror newspaper.
"Now that Anderson's address is known, India must immediately and formally
push for his arrest and extradition on charges of culpable homicide," said Ganesh
Nochur, campaigns director of Greenpeace
India. "In return, Greenpeace demands that the U.S. honor this request, per
the two nations' extradition agreement," he said.
Under a 1997 Indo-U.S. agreement, India's interior ministry must seek extradition
through diplomatic channels before a U.S. judge can deliver a ruling on whether
an arrest can be made.
The call for Anderson's extradition came just days after the Bhopal district
court rejected a case presented by India's Central Bureau of Investigation to
water down the charges from homicide, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years
and a fine, to negligence, for which an offender can be jailed for a maximum of
two years or be fined.
"Wednesday's judgment is very welcome," said Nochur. "The case is at an important
stage and we want the court to enforce timely implementation of the pending arrest
warrant," he said, noting that Anderson had been untraceable ever since a warrant
on him was issued in Bhopal nearly 10 years ago.
Anderson was arrested briefly in Bhopal following the disaster but, after
being granted bail, had flown home to the U.S., his whereabouts apparently unknown
until the investigation by Greenpeace and the Daily Mirror.
"If a team of journalists and Greenpeace managed to track down India's most
wanted man in a matter of days, how seriously have the U.S. authorities tried
to find him all these years?" Greenpeace campaigner Casey Harrell said in a statement
released last week.
"The U.S. has reacted swiftly on curbing the financial corporate crimes of
Enron and WorldCom, but has clearly not made much of an effort to find Anderson,
responsible for the deaths of 20,000 people in India," Harrell said.
A representative of Dow Chemical Company, which merged with UCC last year,
said he could not comment on recent developments in the case since it was still
under consideration in court.
Although figures are disputed, 20,000 people are estimated to have died from
illnesses related to Methyl Isocyanate inhalation. The leak, caused by contamination
of a factory storage tank, spread like a rolling cloud on the night of December
2, 1984. Some 40 tons of toxic fumes hung in the city's air for a day.
Copyright 2002 OneWorld.net