• Monday, December 22, 2014

Freedom in the air

Rana Plaza probe at final stage

Charge sheets in 3 cases likely this month; 42 to be accused

Ashutosh Sarkar

Investigators have found a total of 42 people responsible for the Rana Plaza collapse that left at least 1,135 people dead and scores maimed in April last year.

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police has "almost completed" the probe into the country's worst industrial disaster in Savar on the outskirts of the capital, and it is likely to submit two charge sheets to the court within this month.

However, Assistant Superintendent of Police Bijoy Krishna Kar, who is leading the investigation, recently told The Daily Star that they would not be able to submit the charge sheets by August 13 as they were asked to by a Dhaka court last month. The CID may seek more time for this on that day.

Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana, owners of the garment factories housed in the building, some officials and engineers of Savar municipality and the Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishment (DIFE) have been found to be responsible for the collapse of Rana Plaza and the loss of lives, he said.

According to Bijoy, owners of Rana Plaza and the garment factories had forced the staffs and workers of the factories to work inside the building even after cracks were found in the building. So, the owners are responsible for the deaths and will be accused of killing people in the charge sheets.

The then executive engineer, assistant engineer, sub-assistant engineer and town planner of Savar municipality have been found responsible for giving clearance to constructing garment factories inside the building without studying the feasibility of constructing three more storeys of the building.

The DIFE officials, who had issued the licence for using the commercial building for industrial purposes without even inspecting the building and examining necessary construction features, will also be accused in the charge sheets.

The officials are responsible for negligence and violating the Bangladesh National Building   Code (BNBC) for which the highest punishment is seven years'              imprisonment, the investigator  said.

A total of 22 people had been arrested in connection with three cases filed over the Rana Plaza tragedy and 14 of them, including Rana's father Abdul Khalek, have been released on bail.

Savar police, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) and a                victim's family filed the cases following the disaster on April 24 last year.

Rajuk official Helaluddin filed a case against Sohel Rana for structural faults found at Rana Plaza and for constructing the building with substandard materials and violating the BNBC.

Another case was filed by Sub-Inspector Wali Ashraf of Savar Police Station against Rana, his father Abdul Khalek and owners of five apparel factories housed in the  nine-storey building for the loss of lives.

The last case was filed by Sheuli Akter, wife of Jahangir Alam whose body was recovered from Rana Plaza debris on April 24 last year, holding Rana, New Wave Style owner Bazlus Samad Adnan and the chief engineer of Savar municipality, responsible for the deaths.

Allegations have been found against all the arrestees, including those who are on bail, in connection with the deadly incident, Bijoy said.

Since two of the three cases are similar, two charge sheets will be submitted -- one in the first case and the other in the second and third cases, he added.

The first charge sheet will deal with the violation of building code and the maximum punishment for the offence is up to seven years' jail term.

Charges will be pressed                     under Section 304, which deals with death due to negligence and stipulates life imprisonment as the           highest punishment, and Section 302, which lays down death penalty for killing, of the penal code in the second charge sheet, according to Bijoy.

The CID recorded statements of more than 1,000 people, including survivors and families of the deceased.

“They are both witnesses and victims,” Bijoy said, adding that        they have readied the investigation reports, which will now be scrutinised by the higher authorities before submission to the court.

Published: 12:01 am Sunday, August 03, 2014

Last modified: 9:30 pm Sunday, August 03, 2014

TAGS: Rana Plaza garment factories collapse Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishment (DIFE)

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