London - Official murder charges have been brought against Sohel Rana, the owner of Rana Plaza and his parents for the 2013 factory collapse in Bangladesh, known as the most disastrous accident in the garment industry's history which saw the deaths of 1,100 workers .
Charges were brought against a total of 42 people, including the owners of five apparel workshops in the building and government officials. The murder charges could result in the death penalty for those formally accused, as they face charges of "mass killing" and of intentionally forcing workers into a "death trap." Additional charges have been brought against 18 individual for breaking building codes.
The murder charges come two years after workers complaint of cracks appearing in the factory's wall. In April 2013, Rana and the workshop owners reportedly forced workers to continue working in the building which ultimately collapsed the next day. "They [Sohel Rana and the owners] discussed and decided to keep the factory open," said Bijoy Krishna Kar, the lead investigator for the Bangladeshi police to news agency AFP. "They sent the workers to their deaths with cool heads."
Although the police revealed plans to charge Rana last year after apprehending him near the India border, the process was delayed as they awaited government approval to press charges against the government officials. The news of the charges has been met with mixed responses. "It’s outrageous that it took more than two years for these charges to be filed, particularly given the number of people who were killed and the clear evidence pointing to the fact that the death toll could have been prevented and that the collapse wasn't simply an accident," said Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity to WWD.
"We're happy to see that charges were finally filed, and that 42 people have been accused. But it is unacceptable that the head of the local government [the Upazila Nirbahi Officer], who just hours before the collapse had said that the building was safe, is not facing any charges."