A Dhaka court today indicted 13 people, including Tazreen Fashions Managing Director Delwar Hossain, in a case over the devastating fire that killed 112 workers and injured many others in 2012.
The court also fixed October 1 for starting trial of the case.
Delwar, Tazreen Chairman Mahmuda Akter and six others, who are now on bail, pleaded themselves innocent and demanded justice after the charges were read out to them. Five other accused have been shown fugitive in the case.
After rejecting all the eight discharge petitions, Judge SM Kuddus Zaman of District and Session judge’s Court passed the order.
At least 112 workers, mostly women, were killed and scores wounded in the country's worst industrial blaze at Tazreen Fashions in Ashulia on the outskirts of the capital on November 24, 2012.
The other 11 accused are Factory Manager Abdur Razzak, Quality Manager Shahiduzzaman Dulal, Production Manager Mobarak Hossain Monju, Manager (admin) Md Dulal Uddin, engineer Mahbubul Morshed, store-in-charge Hamidul Islam and Md Al Amin, security in-charge Md Al Amin and Anisur Rahman, security guard Md Rana, and loader Shamim Mia.
The factory used to produce and supply garments to different international brands, including Walmart.
Ashulia Police filed a case on November 25 in connection with the incident.
Police submitted the charge sheet to the magistrate's court more than seven months after the High Court issued a ruling on the incident.
Following a writ petition, the HC on May 19 asked the government to explain why it should not be directed to prosecute Tazreen owner Delwar for his alleged negligence in protecting the workers from fire.
Delwar appeared before the HC at every hearing on the petition in line with a court order.
In June this year, a probe body formed by the home ministry submitted a report to the HC, saying there was “unpardonable neglect” on the part of the owner.
However, on May 29 in 2013, the brother of a fire victim sued the Tazreen owners and 29 factory staff for gross negligence.
On November 23 of the same year, the HC again asked Delwar to appear before it on January 5 next year.
According to the charge sheet, Delwar and his wife had constructed the building on a faulty plan with the help of the engineer, and illegally used the ground-floor walkway as a warehouse.
There was no fire exit in the factory though a provision of the labour law stipulates that there must be two exits in every factory, it said.
Moreover, the factory was built a mile away from the main road making it very difficult for fire service vehicles to enter the factory compound, said Khan, also inspector of Criminal Investigation Department of police.
Managers and security guards were charged over their insistence that workers get back to work though smoke was billowing from the ground floor where the fire started.
Fire alarms rang as soon as the blaze broke out. Panicked workers tried to leave the factory before the fire spread. But managers and security guards told them it was nothing serious, said Khan.