Bangladesh Clothing Factory Collapse: 41 People Indicted For Murder Including Owner

The Bangladesh clothing factory collapse in April 2013 brought attention to the horrible working conditions in the country’s textile industry. More than 1,100 people died when the building collapsed and now UPI reports that 41 people, including the owner Sohel Rana and his parents, have been indicted on murder charges.

While it was announced in 2015 that murder charges would be sought, the trials only started Monday with the indictments being handed down the same day. Prosecutor Abdul Mannan announced that 38 of the people charged were indicted for murder and the other three were indicted for helping Rana escape according to The National.

Rescuers worked for weeks trying to pull all of the bodies from the rubble at Rana Plaza, however, some people were never found. Rana Plaza, the site of the collapse in Bangladesh, made clothing for some of the world’s leading retailers, including Loblaw Co. Ltd.’s Joe Fresh brand and Benetton.

Bangladesh Clothing Factory Collapse
Protests after Bangladesh clothing factory collapse [Photo by: A.M. Ahad/AP Images]

The clothing factory collapse in Bangladesh turned the spotlight on the working conditions in the country, in an industry that brings more than $20 billion a year in exports. People took to the streets to protest the unsafe work environment, extremely low pay, and excessive work hours.

According to CBC, the investigation into the collapse showed that Rana and the managers of the five factories in the building forced workers to go back to work, despite the fact that the building had several major cracks the day before.

In addition to the charges for murder, 18 people including Rana and his parents, are facing charges for violating building code laws. The Bangladesh Fire Service stated that the top four floors of the factory had been built without a permit.

The collapse happened less than six months after a fire at the Tazreen Fashions clothing factory in Bangladesh claimed more than 100 lives. According to the Guardian, the emergency exits were locked in the factory leaving workers trapped with highly flammable clothing material.

Employees reported that management told them not to leave the building when the fire first broke out, so they kept working while the fire spread. Desperate workers eventually jumped out windows to escape the flames, and twelve people died in the hospital from injuries as a result from jumping.

Thirteen people, including Tarzeen Fashions’ Managing Director Delwar Hossain and Chairman Mahmuda Akter, were charged with manslaughter and death by negligence in the deadly fire according to UPI.

Earlier this year, another fire broke out at a clothing factory in Bangladesh, highlighting the fact that little progress has been made since these deadly incidents. Despite major clothing retailers pledging support for better working conditions and a higher pay, it appears to be all talk and no action.

While China is the largest, Bangladesh is second biggest exporter in the world for apparel. New York Times reports that the country has more than 4,500 garment factories and employs more than four million workers. The minimum wage in Bangladesh for workers in these clothing factories is $37 a month.

Tazreen Factory Fire
Names of victims of Tazreen Factory Fire [Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]

Given that the industry is so crucial to the country’s economy, it is alarming that these workers are being taken advantage of in such a manner – particularly when they are making clothes for companies like Walmart and Sears.

Rana and 33 of his co-defendants pled not guilty in court today. Seven of those charged remain at large, and they will be tried in absentia.

[Photo by: A.M.Ahad/AP Images]