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Owners, others charged in Bangladesh factory fire - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A Bangladeshi Army soldier walks through rows of burnt sewing machines after a fire in the Tazreen Fashions plant in Savar, some 30 kilometers north of Dhaka. Bangladesh police on December 22, 2013, charged the owners and 11 others over the nation's worst garment factory fire, which killed 111 people. (AFP Photo)

A Bangladeshi Army soldier walks through rows of burnt sewing machines after a fire in the Tazreen Fashions plant in Savar, some 30 kilometers north of Dhaka. Bangladesh police on December 22, 2013, charged the owners and 11 others over the nation’s worst garment factory fire, which killed 111 people. (AFP Photo)

Dhaka, AP—Police in Bangladesh on Sunday charged the owners of a garment factory and 11 of their employees with culpable homicide for alleged negligence in a fire at the facility last year that killed 112 people.

This is the first time such charges have been filed against a garment factory owner in Bangladesh, which has the world’s second-largest garment industry.

The sprawling Tazreen Fashions factory located outside the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka produced clothes for global brands including Wal-Mart.

The owners, Delwar Hossain and his wife, Mahmuda Akter, were charged along with 11 of the factory’s managers, security guards and engineers, said Public Prosecutor Anwarul Kabir Babul.

Bangladesh is the world’s second-largest garment manufacturer after China and earns more than 20 billion US dollars a year from exports, mainly to the United States and Europe. The industry employs about 4 million workers, mostly women.

After the fire on November 24, 2012, the industry came under scrutiny for its often harsh and unsafe working conditions. But the sector got even greater attention after the collapse of a building that housed garment factories killed more than 1,100 workers in April.

All 13 who were charged Sunday could face life in prison if convicted.

According to the charges, which were filed at a Dhaka court, the casualties in the fire were a result of negligence in ensuring safety at the factory, Public Prosecutor Babul said.

The factory had no emergency fire exits and was located in a narrow alley, obstructing firefighters who were called to the scene of the fire, he said, citing court documents.

“The managers and security guards misguided the workers by saying that it was nothing but a part of a regular fire drill when the blaze broke out,” Babul said. “So the workers went back to work after the fire alarm went off, but they got trapped as the managers locked the gates.”

He said the court would hear the charges on December 31 to decide whether trial proceedings will go ahead against the accused.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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