The owners and 11 employees of a Bangladeshi garment factory are facing charges for culpable homicide after the death of 112 workers in a fire last year.

Those charged – including owners Delwar Hossain and Mahmuda Akter, and 11 factory managers, security guards, and engineers – created dangerous conditions for the workers that contributed to their deaths. The building had no emergency fire exits, and it’s fire certificate had expired. The factory was nine stories high, even though it only had permission to be three stories, and it was located in a narrow alley where firefighters could not reach the flames.

On the day of the fire, managers and security guards locked the doors, trapping the workers inside.” The managers and security guards misguided the workers by saying that it was nothing but a part of a regular fire drill when the blaze broke out,” said Public Prosecutor Anwarul Kabir Babul. “So the workers went back to work after the fire alarm went off, but they got trapped as the managers locked the gates.”

This is the first time Bangladeshi authorities have charged factory owners in a country where several factory disasters over the past two years have injured and killed hundreds of workers. A court will decide on December 31 whether to accept the charges and allow the trial to proceed. If those charged are convicted, they could face life in prison.

Media Resources: Associated Press 12/22/13; ThinkProgress 12/23/13; Feminist Newswire 12/17/12, 5/9/13

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