Both the director and his wife Mahmuda Akter Mita, who is also chairman of the Tazreen factory, had surrendered to the Dhaka courts Sunday seeking bail but their petitions were rejected and the couple were confined following a hearing, the Dhaka Tribune reported. A judge granted Mahmuda ad-interim bail for one month on Monday but Hossain remains detained.
Activists were shouting in the streets after the hearing demanding proper trials for the accused in the factory deaths which some labeled, “murders.”
Defense counsel ATM Golam Gaus said at the hearing that Hossain and his wife were not involved in the incident and that since Hossain owns the Tuba Group, parent company of Tazreen and other factories with a total of 15,000 workers, Bangladesh would incur loss if he was denied bail.
Last December–more than one year after the deadly fire–the Dhaka courts issued arrest warrants for six accused in the tragedy, including Hossain and his wife, who went missing following the charges.
Aside from the couple, the remaining fugitive accused include: factory manager Abdur Razzaq, quality control manager Shahiduzzaman Dulal, engineer M Mahabubul Morshed and production manager Mobarak Hossain Manju.
There were a total of thirteen people charged in the incident for what some are calling “unpardonable neglect” and the remaining seven include mostly security personnel and an administrative officer present during the fire. All are currently out on bail except for Security-in-Charge Anisur Rahman.
“According to the charges, at 7pm on November 24, the workers were leaving the factory building hearing fire alarm. But they could not pass the main gate as it was locked. The police report says the owner of the factory built poorly constructed exits that led to such a high casualty,” the Tribune reported.
Hossain maintains his innocence.
If the charges can be proved, the accused stand to face a maximum punishment of life in prison and a minimum of five years rigorous imprisonment, which could mean penal servitude or forced hard labor.
The prosecution is expected to produce 104 witnesses in the case.