Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Factory man may face murder charge

Workers protest to demand better conditions following the fatal factory collapse in Dhaka (AP)

Police in Bangladesh are investigating possible murder charges against the owner of a shoddily built factory that collapsed nearly two weeks ago.

The legal development came as officials confirmed that the death toll from the country's worst industrial disaster had reached 675.

Sheuli Akter, the wife of clothing maker Jahangir Alam, filed the complaint with Dhaka magistrate Wasim Sheikh, saying her husband and other workers were "pushed towards death" by building owner Mohammed Sohel Rana and two others.

Alam was employed in New Wave Styles Ltd, one of the five garment factories housed in the eight-storey Rana Plaza that collapsed on April 24 as workers started their morning shift even though cracks had developed in the building.

New Wave Styles owner Bazlul Adanan and local government engineer Imtemam Hossain were the two others accused in the case.

Magistrate Sheikh ordered police to investigate the complaints, and local police chief Mohammed Asaduzzman said that they would now consider possible murder charges. A conviction for murder can result in a death sentence in Bangladesh.

Nine people, including Rana and Adanan, have already been arrested on other charges. Rana faces charges such as negligence and illegal construction, which are punishable by a maximum of seven years in jail.

By Monday afternoon, the death toll had reached 675, according to the police control room at the scene. It is not known how many people are still missing, as workers use heavy equipment to search through the rubble.

An architect whose firm designed the initial floors of the building said it had not been designed for heavy industrial work. Masood Reza, an architect with Vastukalpa Consultants, said they designed the building in 2004 as a shopping mall and not for industrial purposes.

Officials say Rana illegally added three floors and allowed the garment factories to install generators. Vibrations from garment machines and from the generators were thought to have contributed to the collapse.

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