Delwar, wife land in jail after surrenderStaff Correspondent
A judicial magistrate court in Dhaka on Sunday sent Tazreen Fashions managing director Delwar Hossain and his wife Mahmuda Akter, also the company chairman, to jail.
Metropolitan magistrate Md Tajul Islam passed the order after the couple surrendered before Dhaka chief judicial magistrate court to seek bail which the court refused to grant.
They are facing charges of committing ‘homicide by negligence’ that had caused 111 deaths in a factory fire on November 24, 2012.
Delwar went into hiding after the police on December 22, 2013 pressed charges against him and his wife, and 11 executives in the factory fire case.
After accepting the charges, the judicial magistrate on December 31 issued warrants for the arrest of six ‘absconding’ accused, including the couple and the police were asked to submit a report on the execution of the order.
The Badda police informed the court that they had searched the houses of Delwar, his wife and other fugitives but failed to arrest them.
After the denial of bail, Delwar and his wife with their seven-year old son Tahsin Hossain were taken straight to the court’s lock-up where the three were kept for about two hours and a half before the couple landed in the Dhaka Central Jail at about 3:10pm.
The couple entered the court lock-up with their eyed filled with tears as their son cried out, ‘Let me go’.
The couple left their son to Delwar’s mother-in-law when they were taken to the jail in a prison van.
Dhaka Central Jail senior superintendent Forman Ali told New Age that Delwar was kept with general inmates as he was not entitled to get ‘division’.
Hearing the news of the couple’s surrender, a group of rights activists, who had long been demanding the arrest of Delwar, went to the court and welcomed the order and chanted, ‘We want killer Delwar executed.’
Delwar’s lawyer Mohammad Ali Hossain submitted that Delwar and his wife were not responsible for the factory fire as the CID investigation found that the fire had started from a burning cigarette or matchstick when loaders were resting in the warehouse.
Ali Hossain submitted that although Delwar and his wife were the managing director and the chairman of the company respectively, they had never visited the factory since it started operation in 2009.
The Tazreen was a compliant factory and its administrative officers were paid highly, he said.
The defence said that Delwar had become a ‘victim of conspiracy’ although he had suffered a loss of Tk 125 crore in the fire.
The lawyer appealed that the couple should be granted bail as Delwar was sick and they had three minor children.
He said that four other factories of Delwar with around 5,000 employees were in operation and the workers would face difficulties if the owner was not granted bail.
Additional public prosecutor Anwarul Kabir Badul and court inspector Asaduzzaman opposed the bail saying that Tazreen factory lacked safety compliance, had faulty design and unplanned warehouses, and the couple could not deny responsibility for the death of so many workers in the fire.
Inspector Asaduzzaman told New Age that the case would not be ready for trial until four other fugitive accused were arrested or they surrendered before the court.
The court fixed February 25 for submission of report on the execution of the warrants for the arrest of the fugitives – the factory’s engineer S Mahbubul Morshed, manager Abdur Razzaq, quality manager Shahiduzzaman Dulal and production manager Mobarrak Hossain Manju.
Of the 13 accused in the case, only Anisur Rahman was in jail and six others were out on bail, he added.
The deadly fire broke out from a warehouse of fabric on the first floor of the eight-storey Tazreen Fashions building at Ashulia around 6:40pm on November 24, 2012 and killed 111 apparel workers and injured 104 others, most of them women, according to the police investigation.
The accused may be handed 10 years to life in jail if found guilty of homicide.
The High Court on February 3 gave the authorities a week more to pay compensation to the Tazreen fire victims who had not been awarded damages.
A bench of Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice ABM Altaf Hossain passed the order after the deputy attorney general Biswajit Roy prayed for time to comply with its November 24, 2013 order that had asked the government to compensate the remaining identified victims in two weeks.
The bench was holding final hearing of the public interest litigation writ petition filed by anthropologists Naznin Akhter Banu, Saydia Gulrukh Kamal and Mahmudul Hasan Sumon, in May 2013 seeking a High Court directive to prosecute Delwar Hossain and to compensate the fire victims.
The Criminal Investigation Department in November submitted to the High Court that bodies of 100 workers had been identified and the rest 11 remained unidentified.
The CID also said that the government had
paid Tk7 lakh to each of the families of the 41 deceased who had been identified and the process was
under way for distribution of similar amount to the rest.
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