The police in Bangladesh have filed formal murder charges against 41 people accused of being responsible for the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse, which killed more than 1,100 garment factory workers and injured over 2,500.

Sohel Rana, the building’s owner, was charged, along with his parents, several other factory owners, and upwards of a dozen government officials. According to the New York Times:

A high-level state report released in 2013 found that the building was constructed with substandard materials in violation of building codes, and recommended bringing formal charges against the owner, Mr. Rana, as well as against the owners of five factories in the building.

The report stated that owners of the factories urged employees to return to work even after an engineer inspected the building the day before the collapse and deemed it unsafe. The upper stories of the building were illegally constructed, and heavy generators installed there caused the building to shake, it said.

The Rana Plaza collapse was the worst disaster in the history of the garment industry. According to BBC News, even though it took two years for charges to materialize, the fact that they’re being brought at all is “unprecedented.” While the garment industry in Bangladesh has the lowest wages in the world and is well-known for its unsafe practices, the Times notes that factory owners “often enjoy impunity in the country because of the economic heft and power of the industry.” It looks like that’s about to change: if convicted, defendants will face the death penalty.

A preliminary court hearing is scheduled for June 28.


Image via Associated Press.

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