BHOPAL, India, March 12, Reuter: The former Chairman of Union Carbide Corporation and eight others failed to appear in court on Saturday to face homicide charges arising from the 1984 Bhopal disaster.

More than 2,500 people died and 200,000 were injured in the ‘world’s worst industrial accident when deadly methyl isocyanate gas leaked from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in this central Indian City.

Only representatives of Union Carbide’s Indian affiliate and two employees of the Bhopal pesticide plant were present in court when the case opened.

Bhopal’s Chief Judicial Magistfate, Kanheya Lal Sisodia, ordered summones to be issued for the others to appear on May 15.

The homicide charges, against the Connecticut based Union Carbide and its then chairman Warren Anderson and others, were brought by the Indian government. It has also claimed 3.3 billion dollars in damages.

Sisodia granted a prosecution request to issue the summons against Anderson through the Indian ministry of External Affairs.

He rejected a defense plea to grant a blanket exemption from personal appearances in court to defendants who lived outside Bhopal.

Prosecution lawyers said the application showed Union Carbide regarded the criminal charges as “a picnic” or “a show”. Union Carbide’s lawyers denied the accusation.

Article extracted from this publication >> March 18, 1988