Six years have passed, but the trial of the murder case filed over the Rana Plaza collapse is yet to begin due to High Court stay orders.
Charges have been framed against 41 accused, including building owner Sohel Rana, in the case.
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.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Additional Public Prosecutor Md Mizanur Rahman said they had produced five prosecution witnesses, including complainant of the case, on different dates. But the court could not record their statements due to HC stay orders issued in 2016.
He added that as the charges were framed against all the accused, including Rana, on July 18, 2016, the Dhaka District and Sessions Judge’s Court asked the complainant and several other witnesses to appear before it to testify.
But after the indictment order on July 18 that year, eight accused, including then Savar municipality mayor Refayet Ullah and councillor Mohammad Ali Khan, filed writ petitions with the HC.
After hearings, the HC stayed all the proceedings of the case that year. Later, Dhaka District Public Prosecutor Khondaker Abdul Mannan wrote to the Attorney General office to have the stay orders vacated. The HC vacated the orders for six of the accused.
But the stay orders for Refayet and Mohammad Ali imposed on May 9 and December 12 last year were yet to be vacated, said the additional public prosecutor.
“We could not start the trial of the case due to the stay orders,” he added.
Asked about the stay orders, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam yesterday told this newspaper that the public prosecutor was yet to inform his office of the two stay orders. If it was informed, he would take steps to get them vacated.
Of the 41 accused, Rana is now in jail while his parents Abdul Khaleque and Morjina Begum and 32 others are on bail and six are on the run.
After the disaster, Savar police filed a murder case against Sohel and the owners of the five factories housed in the building, while the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha lodged another case against Sohel and several others for “building code violations”.
On May 24, 2015, the Criminal Investigation Department pressed charges against Rana and 40 others in the murder case, while Rana and 17 others were charged with “violation of building codes” in the construction of Rana Plaza.
On June 14, 2016, a Dhaka court framed charges against Rana and 17 others in the case filed over “violation of building codes”.
The proceedings of the case was also stayed following orders of separate sessions courts of Dhaka on different dates, said Anwarul Kabir Babul, additional public prosecutor.