Bangladesh Detains Suspended Mayor of Collapsed Factory Town

The suspended mayor of the Bangladeshi town where a garment factory collapse killed more than 1,000 people earlier this year has been detained by a judicial magistrate in the capital Dhaka.

Refayet Ullah, who was arrested on Wednesday, was ordered to be held in custody by a magistrate after his bail application was rejected, his lawyer Sanaullah Miah said. He was earlier suspended from his job for failures in monitoring building constructions.

The arrest is part of an investigation into the collapse of Rana Plaza on April 24, the country’s worst industrial accident to date. At least 21 people have been arrested in two cases tied to the collapse, Bijoy Krishna Kar, an assistant superintendent of police, said in a phone interview today. The investigation will probably take two more months, he said.

Soon after the collapse, security forces tracked owner Sohel Rana to a western border town and brought him back to Dhaka to face charges. Some members of his family were also detained and a judge ordered his assets seized.

After cracks were found in the building April 23, Rana forced workers to return to their posts and said it was safe as it was being checked by engineers, according to Mokhlesur Rahman, director general of the Rapid Action Battalion, an elite law-enforcement agency.

When the military ended rescue operations on May 14, the death toll had reached 1,131, reinforcing calls in Bangladesh and elsewhere that the tragedy should lead to lasting change.

Earlier this week, the Bangladeshi government, employers’ and workers organizations signed a plan of action to improve fire safety and construction standards in garment factories in the countries. Key actions under the plan include assessment of factories and strengthening labor inspections, the International Labor Organization said.

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