Bangladesh police have filed murder charges against more than 40 people for their roles in the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza building, which killed more than 1,100 people and injured about 2,500. Among those charged are the building’s owner, Sohel Rana; his parents; the owners of the five factories in the building; and at least a dozen government officials, according to investigators.
If convicted, the defendants could face the death penalty. Investigators originally had planned to charge the accused with culpable homicide, which carries a maximum punishment of seven years in jail, but increased the severity of the charge due to the gravity of the accident, the worst industrial disaster Bangladesh has experienced. Rana, his staff and factory management had forced workers to enter the building on the day of the collapse after it had developed major cracks a day earlier, according to the investigation. The police report called the deaths a “mass killing.”
Police are also charging 18 for building code violations, 17 of whom are among those charged with murder, including Rana and his parents. The Rana Plaza was constructed with substandard materials, with four extra stories added to what was originally supposed to be a five-story complex, per a government report. The building’s collapse in April 2013 launched an international outcry against the country’s $23 billion garment industry, leading Western retailers to institute widespread inspections of thousands of apparel factories.