Rana Plaza Collapse: No progress yet in trial of murder case
The trial proceedings in the murder case filed in connection with the Rana Plaza collapse in Savar have made no progress in the last five years due to High Court stay orders.
The prosecution said the trial is stalled as some accused filed criminal appeals with the higher courts challenging indictment orders in the case.
The status of the trial proceedings in another case filed over violation of building codes is the same.
At least 1,136 people, mostly garment workers, were killed and over 2,500 others injured as the nine-storey building came crashing down in Savar on April 24, 2013, raising questions about labour and human rights standards in Bangladesh.
The survivors and their family members have expressed frustration over the apparent halt in the trial proceedings.
"It is extremely frustrating that many sensational cases are being quickly disposed of, but we did not get justice in eight years," Ebadul Islam Emdad, a survivor, told The Daily Star.
He hoped the authorities would take initiatives to dispose of the cases without any further delay.
Hours after the disaster, Wali Ashraf, sub-inspector of Savar Police Station, had filed the murder case against building owner Sohel Rana, his father and several others.
The Criminal Investigation Department of police on May 24, 2015 pressed charges against Sohel Rana and 41 others in the murder case.
On July 18, 2016, the Dhaka District and Sessions Judge's Court framed charges against the 41 accused, including Sohel Rana, also a former Jubo League leader in Savar, in the case.
After the indictment, the court ordered the complainant and several other prosecution witnesses to appear before it to make depositions, said Additional Public Prosecutor Md Mizanur Rahman.
Soon after the charge framing, eight of the accused, including then Savar municipality mayor Refayet Ullah and ward councillor Mohammad Ali Khan, moved the High Court to secure stay orders on the trial proceedings, the lawyer told The Daily Star.
As a result, the trial court could not record their statements.
Mizanur said the HC later vacated the stay orders issued against the petitions of six accused after the public prosecutor wrote to the then attorney general to take steps to vacate the stay orders.
The HC, however, extended stay orders in favour of Refayet and Mohammad Ali, and the orders remain in force till now, the state lawyer said.
Of the 41 accused, only Sohel Rana is now behind bars, while 31 are on bail. Three of the accused have died in the meantime and the rest are still on the run.
0n August 29 of 2017, Sohel Rana was sentenced to three years' simple imprisonment in a graft case.
Besides, two more cases against him are now pending trial with the First Additional District and Sessions Judge's Court of Dhaka. The cases were lodged under the Narcotics Control Act and the Arms Act.
TRIAL OF ANOTHER CASE
Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) had lodged the other case over violation of building codes in the construction of Rana Plaza.
Charges were pressed against Sohel Rana and 17 others in the case in 2015 and they were indicted on June 14, 2016.
But the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate's Court could not start recording statements of the prosecution witnesses due to the HC stay orders on the trial proceedings, said Additional Public Prosecutor Anwarul Kabir Babul.
The prosecutors of both the cases said they would request the attorney general to take steps for vacating the HC stay orders so that the lower court could start trials of the cases.
Contacted, Attorney General AM Amin Uddin said, "I do not know anything about the High Court stay orders in the two cases as I was not in-charge of the attorney general's office then."
He said he would take steps for vacating the HC stay orders.