Two factory inspectors get bail
Despite a strong objection from the prosecution, a Dhaka court yesterday granted bail to two of the 41 accused in the murder case filed over Rana Plaza collapse that killed over 1,100 people in 2013.
Shahidul Islam and Yusuf Ali -- both factory inspectors of the labour ministry -- are the first to secure bail in the case.
They were charged with negligence in properly inspecting the factories housed in the nine-storey building.
Senior Judicial Magistrate Shahajadi Tahmida passed the order after the two accused surrendered before it and sought bail.
The same court on February 8 sent Md Awlad Hossain -- a building inspector of the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha, responsible for monitoring building constructions -- to jail after his surrender in the case.
Another accused, Deputy Chief Inspector (Mills & Factories) Jamsedur Rahman of the labour ministry, too was denied bail and sent to jail after his surrender.
During yesterday's hearing, Public Prosecutor Khondaker Abdul Mannan told the court that Shahidul and Yusuf could not avoid responsibilities for the Rana Plaza collapse since it was their job to look into the quality of the factory structures.
Countering the argument, defence counsel Sheikh Baharul Islam said the two cannot be held responsible for the incident as their task was only to inspect the factories, not the entire building.
Moreover, the two government officials had reached the last stage of their service and showed respect to the court by voluntarily surrendering before it, so they should be granted bail, argued Baharul.
Prosecutor Mannan said the same court had earlier included three government officials, including Shahidul and Yusuf, in the list of the accused even though the labour ministry had not given the required permission.
Also, they might hamper the trial proceedings if they got bail, he said while opposing the bail prayer.
The court, however, ruled in favour of the defence and granted them bail, which Additional Public Prosecutor Anwarul Kabir Babul thinks might stir a negative reaction among the people.
"Especially so since two more government officials accused of the same offences were denied bail earlier," he told The Daily Star.
In one of the worst industrial disasters of the century, at least 1,136 people died when Rana Plaza, housing mostly garment factories, collapsed in Savar's Ashulia on April 24, 2013.
Apart from the murder case, another case was filed against Sohel Rana, owner of Ranan Plaza, for violating the National Building Code and using substandard materials in constructing the building.
On December 21, 2015, a Dhaka court took cognisance of the charge sheet in the murder case.