KARACHI - Police have moved to drop murder charges against the owners of a garment factory, where 289 workers were killed in a fire last year, counsel for Shahid and Arshad Bhaila said on Monday.
The owners of the Ali Enterprises factory in Karachi’s Baldia Town, which made ready-to-wear garments for Western stores, were charged in the wake of last September's blaze, which was one of the worst industrial accidents in the country’s history.
But police have now filed a new investigation report charging Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila with negligence but not murder, lawyer Aamir Raza Naqvi said. Police confirmed the move. A court is expected rule on whether to accept the new charges on Saturday.
Naqvi said that in a separate application, the Sindh High Court released the owners on bail. Justice Ghulam Sarwar Korahi accepted the bail plea of all the accused.
The court ordered the owners to deposit Rs1 million each and the three employees, including Mansoor Ahmed, to deposit Rs200,000 each to get bail. The court directed the accused to submit the surety bonds immediately.
On September 11, over 260 workers were burnt to death when fire engulfed Ali Enterprises, the factory situated in Baldia Town area of Karachi.
Several labour rights organisations last month challenged an order attributed to Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf asking the police to drop murder charges against the owners. A division bench of the Sindh High Court summoned a top aide to the prime minister to appear before the court on February 14.