Almost five years have elapsed since the devastating fire at Tazreen Fashions in Ashulia on the outskirts of the capital in 2013, but there is no significant progress in the trial of two cases filed over the tragedy.
Family members of the 112 workers who were killed in Tazreen fire tragedy are yet to get justice for the delay in the trial.
The case is still pending with Dhaka First Additional District and Sessions Judges Court due to non-appearance of prosecution witnesses, negligence of prosecution lawyers and few others complexities, court sources said.
Almost two years after the incident, on September 3, 2015, the trial had started against 13 accused, including Tazreen owner and Managing director Delwar Hossain and his wife and Tazreen Chairman Mahmuda Akhter.
Since the trial had started, the court recorded depositions of only six prosecution witnesses. Of them, five witnesses were testified from September 3, 2015 to November 2016 while only one witness was testified in last one year.
Although the court is fixing date one after another for recording the testimony of witnesses, the prosecution lawyers are failing to produce witnesses before the court. Finally, on October 8, the court deferred the recording depositions till November 8 as the witnesses did not show up.
Kazi Shahnara Yeasmin, additional public prosecutor of the court on Monday said, “The trial is not moving as the witnesses are not turning up in the court despite issuing summons.”
The state lawyer also said, “We can’t trace most of the witness to make them appear for deposition as they no longer live in their previous addresses given to the investigation officer during the probe”.
Sources said most of the witnesses of the cases are RMG workers. After the fire incident, the workers joined new factories and shifted to new location.
There are also allegations that as most of the witnesses are poor, the accused in the cases are managing the witnesses in exchanging of giving financial benefits or job.
Talking to this correspondent, Public prosecutor Shahnara Yeasmin also said “They (witnesses) might have been influenced by the accused as they are not coming to the court for deposition.”
“The witnesses are also not giving similar statements before the court which they had given to police under section 161 of the CrPC during the probe,” She said, adding that it will be difficult to probe charges against the accused if the witnesses are influenced in exchange for financial benefits.
Advocate Faruk Ahamed, one of the defence counsels, said the prosecution is failing to produce witnesses before the court, causing the delay in the trial.
The others accused in the cases are Shahiduzzaman Dulal, Mahbubul Morshed, Hamidul Islam, Md Al Amin, Md Al Amin (2) and Anisur Rahman, Abdur Razzak, Md Rana, Shamim Miah, Dulal uddin and Mobarak Hossain Monju. All were the top officials and employees of the Tazreen Faishon Ltd.
On November 23, 2012, the country witnessed a devastating fire at garments factory ‘Tazreen Fashions Ltd.’ in Ashulia that left at least 112 workers killed and scores of others wounded.
According to the charge sheet, Delwar and his wife constructed the Tazreen factory building on a faulty plan with the help of an engineer and illegally used its ground-floor walkway as a warehouse.
There was no fire exit in the factory though a provision of the labour law stipulates that there must be two exits in every factory, it said.
The charge sheet also mentioned that the factory was built a mile away from the main road, making it very difficult for fire service vehicles to enter the factory compound.
Managers and security guards have been indicted in the cases as they had asked the panicked workers get back to work when smoke was billowing from the spot.
Almost five have elapsed after the tragic incident, but the promises made to the families of the fire victims for timely and proper compensation are yet to be fulfilled till now.
Rights activists said BGMEA and foreign buyers, who were supposed to stand by the victims’ families with financial assistance, have done little so far.