Savar: A Bangladeshi court has sent the owner of the illegally-built building that collapsed last week, to 15 days police custody.  He may face a maximum punishment of seven years.

Mohammed Sohel Rana, who was arrested near the border with India, will be held for questioning on charges of negligence, illegal construction and forcing workers to join work.

Rana, who was arrested on Sunday by the elite Rapid Action Battalion apparently trying to flee to India, was ordered to be held on remand for 15 days for interrogation.

There were angry scenes as Rana, a local leader of the ruling Awami League's youth front, was led into court on Monday wearing a helmet and protective police jacket, witnesses said.

"Put the killer on the gallows, he is not worth any mercy or lenient penalty," one onlooker outside the court shouted.


Eight people have been arrested including four factory bosses, two engineers, building owner Mohammed Sohel Rana and his father, Abdul Khalek.

Khalek, who was named in documents as a legal owner of the Rana Plaza building, was arrested in Dhaka on Monday on suspicion of aiding Rana to force people to work in a dangerous building.

Those being held face charges of faulty construction and causing unlawful death. Police are looking for Spanish national David Mayor, the fifth factory boss. Though it was unclear whether he was in Bangladesh at the time of the accident.
Bangladesh does carry out the death penalty for murder and for most serious categories of manslaughter.


With almost no hope left of finding further survivors, heavy machinery has been brought in to start clearing the mass of concrete and debris from the site in the commercial suburb of Savar, about 30 km from Dhaka.

"We are proceeding cautiously. If there is still a soul alive, we will try to rescue that person," said army spokesman Shahinul Islam at the collapse site.

So far 397 bodies have been retrieved while about 2,500 people have been rescued from the wrecked building, which housed several factories on the upper floors, but hundreds of the mostly female workers who are thought to have been inside remain unaccounted for.

Rescuers entered into the rubble vertically on crane boxes, creating boreholes from the top to pull out the survivors, if found, as the heavy machines removed 90 tonnes of concrete chunks.


The collapse was the third major industrial incident in five months in Bangladesh, the second-largest exporter of garments in the world behind China. In November, a fire at the Tazreen Fashion factory in a suburb of Dhaka killed 112 people. The industry employs about 3.6 million people, most of them women, some of whom earn as little as USD 38 a month.
Anger over the disaster has sparked days of protests and clashes. Many factories remained closed on Monday due to labour unrest and police used tear-gas to quell demonstrations.

Officials in Bangladesh have said the eight-storey complex had been built on swampy ground without the correct permits, and more than 3,000 workers - most of them young women - entered the building on Wednesday morning despite warnings that it was structurally unsafe. A bank and shops in the building closed after a jolt was felt and cracks were noticed on some pillars on Tuesday.


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