A total of 41 defendants face charges in connection with the industrial disaster, Reuters reported. Only 35 appeared before the court this week, including factory owner and principal accused Sohel Rana. All plead not guilty.
Thirty-eight have been accused with murder. The others were charged with helping Rana escape after the deadly event. The six who did not appear in court are fugitives and will be tried in absentia.
If those defendants charged with murder are convicted, they could face the death penalty.
It’s been more than three years since the tragedy occurred, prompting many to question the safety of Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry, which makes up more than 80 percent of the country’s exports and whose customers include H&M, Inditex, Walmart, Bestseller and VF.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) recently told Sourcing Journal that of the nearly 4,000 factories inspected following the disaster, just 39 had to be shut down because of immediate risks. Improvements at the others have been slow but steady. Earlier this year the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety said that factory fires have also dropped by more than 90 percent.
Meanwhile, survivors of the tragedy and relatives of those who perished are still waiting for justice. The trial is scheduled to start on Sept. 18.