DHAKA (Reuters) – Bangladeshi lawyers and protesters chanted “hang him, hang him” yesterday as the owner of a factory building that collapsed last week killing nearly 400 people was led into court dressed in a helmet and bullet-proof jacket, witnesses said.
The drama came as rescue officials said they were unlikely to find more survivors in the rubble of the building that collapsed on Wednesday, burying hundreds of garment workers in the country’s worst industrial accident.
Heavy cranes were being used to lift huge concrete blocks from the wreckage of Rana Plaza, where 385 people are now confirmed to have been killed. The building housed factories making clothes for Western brands.
Eight people have been arrested – four factory bosses, two engineers, building owner Mohammed Sohel Rana and his father, Abdul Khalek. Police are looking for a fifth factory boss, David Mayor, who they said was a Spanish citizen.
Rana, a local leader of the ruling Awami League’s youth front, was shown on television being brought to Dhaka in handcuffs after he was seized in the border town of Benapole by the elite Rapid Action Battalion following a four-day manhunt.
Rana was arrested by police commandos on Sunday, apparently trying to flee to India.
“Put the killer on the gallows, he is not worth of any mercy or lenient penalty,” one onlooker outside the court shouted.
The court ordered that Rana be held for 15 days “on remand” for interrogation.
Khalek, who officials said was named in documents as a legal owner of the building, was arrested in Dhaka yesterday. Those being held face charges of faulty construction and causing unlawful death.
Bangladesh does carry out the death penalty for murder and for most serious categories of manslaughter.
Hundreds of the mostly female workers who are thought to have been inside the building when it caved in remain unaccounted for. A fire overnight further hampered the last desperate efforts to find survivors.
“We are giving the highest priority to saving people, but there is little hope of finding anyone alive,” army spokesman Shahinul Islam told reporters at the site.
About 2,500 people have been rescued from the wrecked building in the commercial suburb of Savar, about 30 km (20 miles) from the capital, Dhaka.