Vol. 5 Num 336 Mon. May 09, 2005  
Front Page

Savar Tragedy
Factory owner surrenders, sent to jail

A Dhaka court yesterday sent the managing director of the collapsed sweater factory at Savar, Shahriar, alias Sayeed Hossain, and a director of the factory, Abul Hashem Fakir, to jail after they surrendered for bail.

Shahriar had been absconding since April 11, when the nine-storey factory building at Palashbari in Savar collapsed in the middle of the night, killing 61 people and injuring 84 others, according to official estimates.

Judge Mohammad Rafiqul Islam of the District and Sessions Judge's Court issued the order when Shahriar, the managing director (MD) and also one of the owners of Savar Spectrum Sweaters Industries Ltd., as well as director Hashem Fakir, alias Abul Hashem Fakir, appeared before the court for bail.

The two accused, along with their lawyers, advocates Abdus Sabur, Khorshed Alam and Sanaullah Miah, appeared before the court at about 10:30am seeking bail.

Moving the bail petition, the lawyers told the court that the building collapse was merely an accident and that the owner paid Tk 20 lakh to the victims' family members. Moreover, the charges brought against the accused are all bailable, the lawyers said.

At one stage, the judge asked the lawyers whether their building plan had been approved by the Rajdhani Unnayan Katripakha (Rajuk). The lawyers replied that the factory is out of the jurisdiction of Rajuk and therefore needs no approval from it. When the court then asked whether they received approval from the municipality, the counsels replied that the factory is outside the jurisdiction of the municipality. The court finally asked how the owners constructed the factory, but the counsels failed to explain. The court said that nobody can construct a building without an approved plan from the authorities concerned.

Citing decisions from the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), Advocate Khorshed Alam told the court that if the charges are brought against anyone, the court shall be bound to grant bail to him or her.

The judge then overruled their submission, saying the court would give a decision on any issue on the basis of allegations brought against the accused.

The court also asked the lawyers why they did not surrender before the lower court as the case is now pending there. The counsels replied that they feared the lower court would not grant bail to their clients.

Opposing the bail petition, Dhaka District Public Prosecutor (PP) Mohammad Mohsin Miah prayed for sending the two to jail custody, telling the court that the Savar tragedy is the deadliest such incident in living memory. The charges brought against the accused are heinous offences, he added, saying the accused constructed the factory without receiving any approval from Rajuk.

After hearing both sides, the judge rejected the bail petition and sent the two to the Dhaka Central Jail. The court also fixed May 12 for a hearing on the bail petition.

In the case filed with the Savar Police Station, Officer-in-Charge (OC) Inspector Mohammad Nazrul Islam alleged that at about 1:30am on April 12 he came to know over the telephone that the nine-storey Savar Spectrum Sweaters Industries Ltd. at Palashbari in Savar collapsed, trapping up to 400 workers. Later, he also came to know that the owner constructed the factory without an approved plan from the authorities concerned.

Shahriar taken to jail