Bangladesh panel blames owner for 1,127 deaths in factory collapse

DHAKA (AFP) - The head of an official inquiry into the collapse of a Bangladesh factory complex said Wednesday the building’s owner was the “main culprit” in the disaster because he violated building codes.

The cave-in of the nine-storey factory complex outside the capital last  month killed more than 1,100 workers and highlighted appalling safety conditions in Bangladesh’s 4,500 garment plants.

“He (Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana) is the main culprit and because of him 1,127 people have died,” said Main Uddin Khandaker, chief of the government inquiry into the April 24 disaster.

“He became rich with black money and started defying all laws and regulations. He is the by-product of our rotten politics and represents the decadent part of our society. He was a terror personified.”

Mr Khandaker said the panel had asked the government to prosecute Sohel Rana,  the owner of the nine-storey Rana Plaza and a ruling party official, for “culpable homicide” which carries a maximum term of life imprisonment.

“He defied building codes in constructing the building,” Mr Khandaker said.

Rana used sub-standard construction materials and did not follow proper specifications, he added.