Even two years after the collapse of Rana Plaza building, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has not pressed charges in two cases filed in connection with world's one of the worst industrial disasters.
The disaster on April 24, 2013 left at least 1,134 workers dead and 2,000 injured. As many as 2,438 people were rescued from the rubbles of the building collapsed in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka.
CID's Additional Superintendent Bijoy Krisna Kar, however, told the Daily Observer on Monday: "Investigations are almost finished. "
CID probes named 59 persons as accused, including former Savar Upazila Nirbahi Officer Kabir Ahmed, Savar municipal mayor Refat Ullah Refat, RAJUK engineer and industry inspector, building owner Shohel Rana, his father Abdul Khaleq and mother Morjina Begum and 17 owners and officials of five garments factories housed in Rana Plaza.
Court sources said 12 of the accused were in custody and 11 others granted bail by the High Court. Police said some accused remain absconding.
The arrested include Rana, Khalek and four garment factory owners - Anisur Rahman, Aminul Islam, Bazlul Shmad Adnan and Mahbubur Rahman Tapash. Besides, Savar municipality engineers Emtemum Hossain, Alam Miah and Abdur Razzak, ward councillor Mohammad Ali Khan, Rana's associates Md Abdul Mannan, Md Alamgir Hossain, Md Modhu, Md Rasel Ahmad, Md Sarowar Kamal, Anil Das, Shah Alam Mithu and Abul Hasan and three others were arrested.
Court documents show Anil Das, Shah Alam Mithu and Abul Hasan confessed to investigators on May 5, 2013, that they had given shelter to Rana in Faridpur and Jessore and also tried to help him leave the country after the disaster.
CID sources said the charges against the accused will include fraudulence in the building's design, using low quality construction materials, not supervising the construction process, threatening and forcing labourers to work in risky conditions, lack of security initiative and sheltering and helping the criminals. Following the disaster, five cases were filed at Savar Model Police Station.
CID has accused Rana and his parents of obtaining illegal approval of the Rana Plaza design, constructing the building with low quality materials, not sealing off the building even after seeing the cracks and coercing labourers to continue work despite being aware of the high risk of collapse.
BNP leader and Savar municipal mayor Refat Ullah, chief executive officer Uttam Kumar Roy, chief engineer Rafiqul Islam, deputy chief engineer Rokibul Hasan, assistant engineer Mahbubur Rahman, municipal planner Farzana Yeasmin and former ward councillor Mohammad Ali were accused for approving the Rana Plaza building after being bribed, not supervising the construction and not taking action even after cracks were found.
Owners and officials of five garment factories were accused of setting up units in Rana Plaza, which was constructed as a commercial building only, placing fake design of building to get permission for setting up factories, collecting licenses illegally, illegal installations of power generators on the rooftop and for not sealing off the factories even after seeing the cracks.
The accused are New Wave Bottoms and New Wave Style chairman Bazlul Shamad, managing director Mahmudur Rahman, Phantom Apparels directors Aminul Islam, ABM Siddique, Farid Uddin Milad, Nazim Uddin, Suraoya Begum, Ayub Hossain, Delowar Hossain and Zafar Ahmed, Ether Tex chairman Anisur Rahman, managing director Jannatul Ferdus, directors Monowar Hossain Biplob, Nazrul Islam, Rakibul Hasan and Shafiqul Islam.
Engineer Sarwar Kamal, employee Ataur Rahman, Abdus Salam, Biddut Miah, Rezaul Islam and contractor Nantu were found guilty for helping building owners by providing low quality construction materials.
Bashir Ahmed, Noyon Miah, Abdul Hamid, Abdul Majid, Yusuf Ali and Aminul Islam, who are all personal employees of the building owner, were accused of threatening and coercing labourers to join work.
Anil Das, Shah Alam and Abul Hossain were accused of sheltering Rana.
The Industries Ministry's Industry Relations Project Director Belayet Hossain, Assistant Industry Inspector Sheikh Asaduzzaman, Inspector Md Yusuf Ali, Assistant Chief Inspector Mahmudul Hoque, Deputy Chief Inspector Aminul Hoque, Joint Labour Inspector Zamsedur Rahman and Inspector Shahidul Islam were accused for giving approval of the factories on the basis of fake design of the building.
RAJUK's Chief Building Inspector Rahela Khatun and Inspector Awlad Hossain were named accused for not detecting the risks and for failure in timely supervision of the Rana Plaza building.
According to CID officials, Spanish national David Mayor Rico, partner and managing director of Ether Text Garments, had fled the country soon after the incident. He was not named as his details were not available to the investigators.
On October 24, 2013, a Dhaka court ordered the investigators to submit the probe report by November 24, 2013, but they failed.
The High Court on Monday directed the officer-in-charge of Savar Police Station to submit a progress report before it by April 26 on the trial proceedings of the cases filed in connection with the incident.
While hearing a suo moto rule, the court ordered RAJUK, the capital city's development authority, to report about vulnerable buildings.
The HC bench of Justice Mirza Hossain Haider and Justice Abdur Rab also fixed April 26 for further hearing on this issue.