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24 April, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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6 years of rana plaza tragedy

No significant progress in trials of 2 cases

MUHAMMAD YEASIN, Dhaka

Even though six years have passed since the Rana Plaza building collapse that left 1,135 people killed and over 2,000 injured, there has been no significant progress in the trial of the two cases filed over the country’s worst industrial disaster. State lawyers had hoped that the trial proceedings of the cases would be completed within six months, as the High Court had set such a time frame to complete the trial proceedings of the Rana Plaza case by six months.

Although two separate Dhaka courts had framed charges against 42 accused, including building owner Sohel Rana in two cases in 2016, the courts were not able to start recording the statements of the witnesses in the cases earlier due to a stay order of the High Court. But the lower court will start the trial proceedings very soon as the higher court vacated all its stay orders in the meantime, sources added.

Lower court sources said that if the higher court had not stayed the trial proceedings, the lower court might have been able to reach the final stage of the trial.

The sources also said that the High Court had several times stayed the trial proceedings of the Rana Plaza case, filed by the state on behalf of the workers killed in the mishap, following the stay petitions filed by 10 of the accused in the case.

After the state moved against the stay orders, the higher court did not extend most of them. The higher court vacated its stay orders against all persons, lawyers concerned said.

Talking to this correspondent, Anti-Corruption Commission lawyer Advocate Khurshid Alam Khan said, “So far I know the High Court has vacated all its stay orders in the meantime. There is no legal bar to completing the trial proceedings of the cases.”

 Deputy Attorney General AKM Amin Uddin Manik said that a High Court bench had on April 10 this year rejected a petition filed by Sohel Rana seeking bail in connection with a case filed on charges of irregularities in constructing the building.

 The HC also directed the trial court concerned to finish the trial proceedings of the case in six months. So, the trial court has to finish the trial proceedings of the case by six months following the higher court order, Manik added.

 Echoing the same view, ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan said that though the lower court could not complete the trial proceedings of the cases despite the lapse of more than six years since the Rana Plaza collapse that left 1,135 people dead and over 2,000 injured.

 “But we hope that the country’s people and the victims’ families will get justice in the case by this year as the High Court asked the lower court concerned to finish the trial proceedings of a case filed in connection with the irregularities of constructing the building,” Khan noted.

The murder case filed for the death of workers in the building collapse tragedy has been pending at the Dhaka District and Sessions Judges Court for disposal.

On July 18, 2016, the court had framed charges against the 41 accused including Sohel Rana. Afterwards the court had fixed four dates — September 8, November 17 in the same year, and January 22 and February 26 last year — to start recording the statements of witnesses. But the trial could not start the work due to the time petitions filed by the defence and the state initially, and it was finally halted following the HC stay order, sources said.

Public Prosecutor Khandaker Abdul Mannan told The Independent that there were some complications due the delay in starting the recording of depositions in the early stages.

“But while we got ready to start the trial proceedings, it was stayed as 10 persons moved the HC for staying the trial proceedings earlier,” he added.

However, the state lawyer said that the trial proceedings would start very soon as the higher court vacated its stay order on the trial proceedings following the state petition in the meantime.

Among the 41 accused, two — Abu Bakar Siddique and Abul Hossain — died and were, consequently, dropped from the case, while only Sohel Rana is now in jail. Mahbubur Rahman, Farzana Islam, Monwar Hossain, Syed Shafiquel Islam, Rezaul Islam, Nantu Contractor, Nayan Miah and Rezaul Karim are on the run, while the rest have obtained bail.

The other case filed under the national building code is stuck in the Dhaka Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court.

On June 14, 2016, the court had framed charges against 18 accused including Sohel Rana in the case.

Since then, the court has fixed different dates for recording statements of witnesses but the proceedings have been stalled by time petitions and other legal complications including the filing of petition at the High Court by the defendants, challenging the charges.

On the morning of April 24, 2013, the eight-storey Rana Plaza, which housed five clothing factories, a shopping mall and a bank, came crashing down, leaving at least 1,135 people dead and about 2,000 injured.

After the disaster, police had filed a case against the building owner, Sohel Rana, and the owners of the five garment factories housed in the building under Sections 337, 338, 427, 304 (b) and 34 of the Penal Code.

Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha had filed another case against the Savar municipality under Section 12 of the Building Construction Act 1952.

There were 594 prosecution witnesses in the murder case and 130 in the case related to the violation of the building code.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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