A little less than three years after the Tazreen fire in which 112 workers were killed in a factory at Ashulia, outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, 13 people, including the owner of the factory, were on Thursday indicted by a Dhaka court.
They are expected to go on trial Oct. 1.
The fire at Tazreen Fashions Ltd. on Nov. 24, 2012, resulted in the deaths of the workers after factory supervisors reportedly locked the exit gate. Dozens of workers jumped from the first and second floors of the factory and more than 200 were injured, causing serious damage, including loss of limbs.
Factory owner and managing director Delwar Hossain went missing after the fire and was later apprehended by police near the Indian border, and a warrant for his arrest was issued by the police in December 2013. His wife, chairman of the company, Mahmuda Akter and other Tazreen employees including the factory manager and the production manager are among those arrested.
At this point, eight of the accused, including Hossain and his wife, have pleaded innocent, while the others have been declared fugitives.
Tazreen manufactured garments for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., C&A and other global brands and retailers.
The charges against Hossain include culpable homicide under Section 403 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
In August 2014, the court granted Hossain bail, leading to weeks of protests among workers demanding pending salaries at five other factories owned by Hossain. The issue was negotiated by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturer and Exporters Association after days of a hunger strike as workers locked themselves into a building.
The incident brought to light the need for clear factory exits — which are often blocked or inadequate in factories — as well as the need for workers to be able to demand their rights and ensure safety.
Two groups of more than 200 global brands and retailers — the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety and the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety — have been working to help ensure factory safety and workers rights after the Rana Plaza, an eight-story building, collapsed in April 2013, adding concerns of structural safety to those of fire and electrical damage at factories.