Owner of Bangladesh factory faces murder charges

2014-04-15 12:29
Mohammed Sohel Rana, the fugitive owner of an illegally-constructed building that collapsed in Bangladesh. (File, AP)

Mohammed Sohel Rana, the fugitive owner of an illegally-constructed building that collapsed in Bangladesh. (File, AP)

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Dhaka - The owner of a nine-storey building that collapsed and killed 1 135 Bangladeshi garment workers in April last year is to face murder charges, police said on Tuesday.

Sohel Rana, owner of the Rana Plaza factory complex on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka, was one of around 40 people who would be charged in connection with the disaster, said lead investigator Bijoy Krishna Kar.

"We are planning to press murder charges against Sohel Rana and some other accused," Kar of the Bangladesh police's Criminal Investigation Department told AFP, adding that if convicted Rana could be sentenced to death.

It was the first time police have said they would file murder charges against Rana, who was arrested on the western border with India as he tried to flee the country days after the 24 April disaster.

Rana, a junior official in the ruling Awami League party, became the country's public enemy number one after survivors recounted how thousands of them were forced to enter the compound at the start of the working day despite complaints about cracks appearing in the walls.

Among the others expected to be charged are Rana's father, who is a co-owner of the building, and five bosses of the garment factories operating within the complex who also allegedly ignored the cracks.

The five include David Mayor, a Spanish citizen who was out of the country at the time of the collapse, said Habibur Rahman, another CID investigator.

"Our investigation is almost over. We wanted to wrap up our work before the first anniversary of the tragedy on 24 April but even writing up the case notes has proved to be a huge task," Rahman told AFP.

"We hope we can press the charges by next month."

The collapse was the worst industrial disaster in Bangladesh's history.

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