The owner of a Bangladesh clothing factory where 112 workers died in a fire is wanted on murder charges, it’s emerged.
A court issued an arrest warrant for Delwar Hossain – who denies the charges – his wife and 11 employees of Tazreen Fashions.
The fire, which happened on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka in November 2012, broke out on the ground floor, trapping many its victims.
The 13 could be tried in their absence if they are not found by February 25, 2014, prosecutor Anwarul Kabir told Reuters.
Police investigator A.K.S. Mohosin-uz Zaman Khan said: “Several times we raided their houses, including Hossain’s residence, to nab them. But they were not found. They have been shown as fugitives in the charge sheet.
“We appealed to the court to issue the arrest warrants against the absconding accused and confiscate their properties.”
The charges against the 13 included breaching construction rules and building design faults such as the failure to provide two emergency exits, an investigating officer said. If convicted, they could face life in prison.
Hossain told Reuters earlier that he was not guilty and had not left the country.
“I have the full respect for the law, and because of that I did not try to flee the country though I had a U.S visa. I am not guilty and will try to prove it when the trial begins,” he said by telephone, a day after he was charged on Dec. 22.
He said he was in Dhaka. His wife, Mahmuda Akter, was chairwoman of Tazreen Fashions.
Bangladesh, the world’s second-largest apparel exporter after China, this month raised wages for garment workers after a string of factory accidents thrust poor pay and conditions into the international spotlight.
The lucrative export industry, which supplies many Western brands, came under scrutiny when a building housing factories collapsed in April, five months after the Tazreen fire, killing more than 1,130 people.