Bangladesh seizes properties of owner of collapsed factory

The Bangladesh government has seized properties belonging to the owner of a building that collapsed and killed 1,138 garment workers, the worst industrial disaster in the country's history, an official said Thursday.

Sohel Rana, owner of the Rana Plaza factory complex on the outskirts of Dhaka, was one of around 40 people whom police said this week would be charged in connection with the disaster on April 24 last year.

He faces murder charges.

The government announced the property seizures months after the High Court ordered them confiscated, and just one week before the first anniversary of the tragedy in the industrial district of Savar.

"We have confiscated all his properties including the Rana Plaza land, a multi-storied tower at Savar and a big slice of land in the neighbouring district of Dhamrai," said deputy district administrator Fazal Mir.

The High Court ordered the seizures as part of investigations into Rana, 36, who became public enemy number one after the disaster.

Survivors recounted to media how Rana demanded they work their shifts despite complaints about cracks appearing in the building's pillars the day before its collapse.

Rana, a junior official in the ruling Awami League party, was arrested on the western border with India as he tried to flee days after the collapse.

The anniversary is expected again to focus global attention on the booming textile industry, whose four million poorly-paid workers stitch clothes for Western retailers.

Bangladesh has become the world's second largest clothing producer after China with $22 billion in exports last year, mainly to retailers in Europe and the United States.

Retailers including Walmart, Tesco and Carrefour source large amounts of their apparel from Bangladesh, home to around 4,500 garment factories.