Bangladesh files mur­der charges in 2013 build­ing col­lapse that killed over 1,100


Au­thor­i­ties in Bangladesh filed mur­der charges Mon­day against dozens of peo­ple for their roles in the 2013 col­lapse of a gar­ment fac­tory build­ing that killed more than 1,100 peo­ple.

The charges were filed against 41 peo­ple, in­clud­ing the build­ing’s owner, So­hel Rana, and his par­ents and more than a dozen gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, for their di­rect role in the deaths of 1,137 peo­ple in the col­lapse of Rana Plaza, said the lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor, Bi­joy Krishna Kar of the Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion Depart­ment.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors ini­tially had said the ac­cused, who also in­clude the own­ers of the five fac­to­ries that the build­ing housed, would be charged with cul­pa­ble homi­cide, but they later changed their plans due to the grav­ity of the ac­ci­dent, Bangladesh’s worst industrial dis­as­ter.

If con­victed of mur­der, the de­fen­dants could face the death penalty. The max­i­mum pun­ish­ment for cul­pa­ble homi­cide is seven years in jail.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors said the shift from the cul­pa­ble homi­cide charges came af­ter the in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that Rana, his staff and the man­age­ment of the five fac­to­ries had forced the work­ers to en­ter the build­ing de­spite their un­will­ing­ness to work on the day of the ac­ci­dent af­ter the build­ing de­vel­oped ma­jor cracks a day ear­lier.

The po­lice re­port called the deaths a “mass killing.” About 2,500 peo­ple were in­jured in the dis­as­ter.

Kar, who sub­mit­ted the charges to a court in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s cap­i­tal, said a hear­ing would take place June 28 to de­cide on fur­ther pro­ceed­ings.

In a sep­a­rate case, the ac­cused will also face charges of vi­o­lat­ing safety rules in build­ing Rana Plaza be­cause ad­di­tional floors were added to the orig­i­nal five-story build­ing, which was ba­si­cally meant for of­fice and shop­ping malls. Later, il­le­gally built up­per floors were trans­formed into fac­to­ries.

The April 2013 col­lapse of Rana Plaza, lo­cated just out­side Dhaka, high­lighted grim con­di­tions in Bangladesh’s gar­ment in­dus­try. Ex­tremely low wages in the poor South Asian coun­try have led global brands and re­tail­ers to pre­fer Bangladesh over China and other de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

The build­ing col­lapse trig­gered an up­roar at home and abroad for re­forms in a sec­tor that helps Bangladesh earn more than US$20 bil­lion a year from ex­ports, mainly to the United States and Europe.


In this April 25, 2013 file photo, Bangladeshi peo­ple gather as res­cuers look for sur­vivors and vic­tims at the site of Rana Plaza build­ing that col­lapsed the day be­fore, in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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