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June 1, 2015

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Rana Plaza collapse: murder charges filed

Authorities in Bangladesh have filed murder charges against dozens of people for their roles in the 2013 collapse of a garment factory building that killed more than 1,100 people.

Rana plaza collapseThe charges were filed against 41 people, including the building’s owner, Sohel Rana, his parents, and more than a dozen government officials, for their direct role in the deaths, said the lead investigator, Bijoy Krishna Kar of the Criminal Investigation Department.

Investigators initially had said the accused, who also include the owners of the five factories in the building, would be charged with culpable homicide, but they later changed their plans due to the gravity of the accident, Bangladesh’s worst industrial disaster.

Investigators said the shift from the culpable homicide charges came after the investigation found that Rana, his staff and the management of the five factories had forced the workers to enter the building despite their unwillingness to work on the day of the accident after the building developed major cracks a day earlier.

If convicted of murder, the defendants could face the death penalty. The maximum punishment for culpable homicide is seven years in jail.

Kar, who submitted the charges to a court in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, said a hearing would take place June 28 to decide on further proceedings.

In a separate case, the accused will also face charges of violating safety rules in Rana Plaza because additional floors were added to the original five-storey building, which was meant for office space and shopping malls. Later, illegally built upper floors were transformed into factories.

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