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Owners surrender over Bangladesh factory fire - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Two owners of Tazreen Fashions, Delwar Hossain, center left, and his wife, Mahmuda Akter, right, are escorted by security personnel to a court in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Sunday, February 9, 2014. (AP Photo)

Two owners of Tazreen Fashions, Delwar Hossain, center left, and his wife, Mahmuda Akter, right, are escorted by security personnel to a court in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Sunday, February 9, 2014. (AP Photo)

Dhaka, AP—The two owners of a Bangladesh garment factory who are facing homicide charges for a 2012 fire that killed 112 workers surrendered to a court Sunday.

The factory outside the capital, Dhaka, which produced clothing for big retailers including Wal-Mart, had no emergency exits and its location in a narrow alley prevented firefighters from responding quickly to the deadly blaze in November 2012, said prosecutor Anwarul Kabir Babul.

The investigation found that when the fire broke out, managers and security guards told workers it was part of a regular drill and it was too late for many to escape. Workers found the gates locked from outside as the fire engulfed the sprawling building, according to the investigation.

Police filed homicide charges December 22 against 13 people in connection with the fire, including the owners of Tazreen Fashions, Delwar Hossain and his wife, Mahmuda Akter. Arrest warrants were issued December 31 for six who police said had fled, including the two owners.

After Hossain and Akter surrendered Sunday, a court rejected their bail petition and ordered them to be jailed, pending further legal procedures.

If found guilty, the accused face a minimum of seven years and up to life in prison, Babul said. Of the 13 accused, four are still at large.

It’s the first time Bangladesh has sought to prosecute factory owners in its lucrative garment industry, which is the world’s second largest after China.

The fire is one of several deadly disasters that have exposed harsh and unsafe working conditions in Bangladesh’s garment industry. A factory collapse last April killed more than 1,100 workers.

The impoverished South Asian nation earns more than 20 billion US dollars a year from garment exports, mainly to the United States and Europe.

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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