DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A Bangladesh court on Tuesday sentenced the owner of a building that collapsed in 2013 in the country’s worst industrial disaster to three years in jail for unaccounted income.
Judge Imrul Kayes found Sohel Rana, the owner of Rana Plaza, guilty of illegal earnings.
More than 1,100 people, mostly garment workers, were killed and 2,500 others were injured when the building that housed five garment factories collapsed.
Rana separately faces several other charges, including murder, for his involvement in the deaths of the workers.
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If found guilty of murder, Rana could face the death penalty as a police report submitted to the court called the deaths a “mass killing.”
Initially, the investigators brought charges of culpable homicide against him after the police investigation found that Rana, his staff and the management of the five factories had forced the workers to enter the building the day of the collapse despite their unwillingness to work after the building had developed major cracks the previous day.
Tuesday’s verdict came after Bangladesh’s official corruption watchdog filed a case accusing Rana of earning money beyond known sources and using that money to build Rana Plaza in violation of building laws.
Defense attorneys said Rana would appeal the verdict.
The April 2013 collapse highlighted the grim conditions in Bangladesh’s garment industry, which earns more than $25 billion a year from exports, mainly to the United States and Europe.
Low wages in the South Asian country have led global brands and retailers to prefer Bangladesh over China, the world’s leading apparel exporter. Bangladesh has the world’s second-largest garment industry, with nearly 4,000 factories employing about 4 million workers, mostly women.