Bangladesh workers demand death penalty for collapsed building owner

Featured South East Asia - April 30th, 2013
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Thousands of garment factory workers took to the streets of Bangladesh demanding the death penalty for Sohel Rana as he appeared in court over a building collapse that killed nearly 400 people.

Workers at all of the country’s 4,500 garment factories were given a two-day holiday over the weekend in an attempt to diffuse public anger over Wednesday’s disaster as rescuers gave up all hope of  finding more survivors in the rubble.

But police and unions said Monday thousands of workers walked out from their factories in the Ashulia industrial zone, on the outskirts of Dhaka, and began a protest march demanding the hanging of Rana, reports AFP.

Rana, who was arrested Sunday attempting to flee to India, was led into court dressed in a helmet and bulletproof jacket. He will be held for questioning on charges of negligence, illegal construction and forcing people to work.

A total of eight people have been detained, including Rana, his father, four factory bosses and two engineers. Police are looking for a fifth factory boss, reports the Financial Times.

Survivors have said workers reported seeing cracks within the building on Tuesday, but were ordered to return to the production line. Hours later, the building was reduced to rubble, crushing most victims under massive blocks of concrete.