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Bangladesh Police Charge Factory Owners in Deadly Fire

  • VOA News

FILE - Bangladeshi officials inspect a garment-factory where a fire killed more than 110 people Saturday on the outskirts of Dhaka, Nov. 26, 2012.
Police in Bangladesh have charged two owners and 11 employees of a garment factory with culpable homicide for alleged negligence leading to the death of 111 people last year in the nation's deadliest garment factory fire.

Police charged owners Delawar Hossain and his wife, along with security guards and managers in connection with the blaze. It is the first time Bangladeshi authorities have sought to prosecute factory owners in the world's second largest garment industry.

Public Prosecutor Anwarul Kabir Babul said the 13 people charged Sunday could face life in prison if convicted of failing to ensure safety at the factory located outside Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.

The factory, which produced clothing for global brands including Wal-Mart, had no emergency fire exits, while its location in a narrow alley meant firefighters were unable to reach the flames, Babul said.

"The managers and security guards misguided the workers by saying that it was nothing but a part of a fire drill when the blaze broke out," Babul said. "So the workers went back to work after the fire alarm went off, but they got trapped as the managers locked the gates."

A court will decide on December 31 whether to accept the charges and allow a trial to proceed.