Owner of Bangladesh factory that killed 1,130 people when it collapsed jailed for three years for graft

Cranes operated by Bangladeshi Army personnel working at the scene following the collapse of Rana Plaza, an eight-storey building housing garment factories, in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka on April 29, 2013.
Cranes operated by Bangladeshi Army personnel working at the scene following the collapse of Rana Plaza, an eight-storey building housing garment factories, in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka on April 29, 2013.PHOTO: AFP

DHAKA (AFP) - A Bangladesh court on Tuesday (Aug 29) jailed the Rana Plaza owner for three years for graft, the first of many charges laid against him after the garment factory complex collapsed in 2013 and killed more than 1,130 people.

Sohel Rana was given the maximum three-year sentence by a special court in Dhaka for failing to declare his personal wealth to Bangladesh's anti-graft commission, one of a series of charges brought by prosecutors following the disaster.

"This is the first time he has been convicted and jailed" since then, prosecutor Salahuddin Eskander said.

Rana faces four other charges, including murder, over his role in one of the world's worst industrial tragedies.

He and 37 others could be sentenced to death if found guilty of murder over the factory complex's collapse.

Rana was arrested just days after the accident at the border with India as he tried to flee Bangladesh.

He became public enemy number one in the aftermath of the disaster as survivors recounted being forced to enter the factory to work despite complaining about cracks appearing in the walls.

Rana and 17 others have also been charged with violating building codes when extending the six-storey structure by a further three floors. The illegal construction was blamed by investigators for the tragedy.