TAZREEN FASHIONS FIRE : Delwar, wife, 11 others indicted

Robiul Islam

Tazreen Fashions managing director Delwar Hossain, his wife Mahmuda Akter and 11 other staff of the apparel factory were charged on Thursday with murder, culpable homicide and killing by negligence for the fire at the factory that killed at least 112 workers in 2012.
Dhaka district and sessions judge SM Kuddus Zaman also posted for October 1 the commencement of the trial with the recording of testimonies of prosecution witnesses.
The court also ordered the transfer of the case documents to the First Additional District and Sessions Judge’s Court for next proceedings of trial.
As the court read out the charges, eight accused – Delwar, Tazreen Fashions chairman Mahmuda Akter, manager (admin) Dulal Uddin, engineer M Mahbubul Morshed, store in-charges Md Hamidul Islam and Al Amin and security in-charges Al Amin and Anisur Rahman – pleaded not guilty to the charges and prayed for justice. They are on bail.
The rest five accused – production manager Mobarak Hossain Manju, factory manager Abdur Razzak, quality manager Shahiduzzaman, guard Rana and loader Shamim Miah – were indicted in their absence as they were still in hiding.
Factory engineer M Mahbubul Morshed, who was also in hiding, surrender to the court and obtained bail on Thursday.
The accused were charged with murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code, culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Section 304, causing death by negligence under Section 304A, voluntarily causing hurt under Section 323, mischief causing damage amounting to Tk 50 and above under Section 427 and mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy building under Section 436 of the code.
The offences warrant various punishments including imprisonment for varying
terms ranging from one year to life and capital punishment.
The court framed the charges rejecting petitions filed by eight accused on bail seeking discharging them from the case.
The court observed, ‘It is an internationally sensational case…So, there is no scope to discharge the accused and they have to face the trial.’
Defence counsel, however, argued that 37 prosecution witnesses did not name the accused and Delwar, Mahmuda and some other officials were not at the place of occurrence.
They argued that the fire was an accident and the management could not be liable for it.
At least 112 workers, mostly women, were killed and scores wounded in the country’s worst industrial fire at Tazreen Fashions at Ashulia, on the outskirts of the capital, on November 24, 2014.
Two cases were filed for the fire.
The police filed one of the cases with Ashulia police station accusing 15 Tazreen staff, without naming anyone, of killing the workers by negligence.
The second case was filed against Delwar and 30 others on May 29, 2013 with the Dhaka Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court by Abdul Matin, brother of missing worker Rehana.
On December 22, 2013, Criminal Investigation Department inspector AKM Mohsinuzzaman Khan, also investigation officer of the cases, submitted the charge sheet in the cases to the court pressing homicide charges against the 13 accused. He named 104 prosecution witnesses.
According to the charges, Delwar and his wife constructed the building on a faulty plan with the help of the engineer, and illegally used the ground-floor walkway as a warehouse and that caused the massive disaster.
There was no fire exit in the building, although it was mandatory in accordance with the Bangladesh Labour Act, the charges said.
The charges said that at about 7:00pm on November 24, 2012 the workers tried to run out from the apparel factory hearing the fire alarm but they could not get out as the main gate was locked. The security people tried to convince the workers that fir fighting manoeuvres was going on in the ground floor.

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