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Warren Anderson — the man who got away

Monday, 7 June 2010 - 4:15pm IST Updated: Tuesday, 8 June 2010 - 1:25am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

It is believed that Anderson compromised the safety of the citizens of Bhopal by insisting on cost-cutting measures, unlike measures taken at a sister plant in West Virginia, USA.

While top guns of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) and those involved in plant operations on the night of December 2-3, 1984, have been indicted by the court, Warren Anderson, who was chairman and chief executive officer of Union Carbide Corporation (which owned the majority stake in UCIL) when the Bhopal gas disaster took place, is not among the guilty.

In fact, he was not even tried since he is absconding.
On hearing about the gas leak, the US-based Anderson had flown down on December 4 and was arrested on landing in New Delhi. He was, however, soon granted bail and flew back on December 7, never to be seen in India again!

His escape created uproar, with the opposition cornering the government for not opposing the bail.

Anderson was declared an absconding fugitive by the Bhopal magistrate's court in February 1992, after he failed to turn up despite repeated summons. On July 31, 2009, magistrate Prakash Mohan Tiwari issued an arrest warrant for him. The US government, however, made no move to extradite Anderson, while India never appeared to press the matter.

New Delhi said it did not know his whereabouts and hence, could not comply with the arrest order. It, however, stood exposed when a TV channel showed Anderson living in a house at Bridgehampton outside New York with wife Lillian.

Last year, Lillian told a news agency that Anderson was deeply troubled by the tragedy. “He's been haunted for years” by the accident, she said. Lillian said Anderson, who is nearly 90 now, was in poor health and didn't remember much. “When you get to be 87 years old, you don't remember anything. You try to put bad things out of your mind,” she said.

Lillian insisted her husband had been unfairly targeted. “Every time somebody wanted to sue Union Carbide, there would be some kind of a thing that happened and they would be chasing Warren, following him to the dump with our trash,” she said. “This is 25 years of unfair treatment.”

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