A committee formed by the administration earlier said the owners and the government agencies cannot avoid liability for the fire that killed over 50 people
Published : 5 May 2023, 10:24 PM
Updated : 5 May 2023, 10:24 PM
Police have submitted the final report over the deadly fire at a container depot in Chattogram’s Sitakunda, saying no one was responsible for the incident.
A committee formed by the administration earlier said the owners and the government agencies cannot avoid liability for the blaze that killed over 50 people at BM Depot.
The Detective Branch of police submitted the report to the Chief Judicial Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, describing the incident as a “mistake of fact”, said SM Shafiullah, the district’s superintendent of police.
Mistakes of fact arise when a criminal defendant misunderstood some fact that negates an element of the crime, according to Justia, an online platform for the legal community to share their knowledge.
“None of the accused are involved with the incident. It was just an explosion,” Shafiullah said, speaking to bdnews24.com on Friday.
“The rest depends on the court. If it is not satisfied, it can task another agency with reinvestigating the incident.”
The court is set to hear next Monday whether to accept the report.
Public Prosecutor Saimul Chowdhury and state counsel Iftekhar Saiful said police did not inform them about the report, although the law-enforcers should have consulted them before submitting it following the rules.
“They should have shown the report to us, considering the sensitivity of the case and for the sake of justice. It has been the longstanding norm, but police don’t do it anymore,” said Iftekhar.
The blaze at the private container depot in the Keshabpur area started on Jun 4, 2022. The fire service, with support from the army, the navy, and other government agencies, put out the fire after 86 hours and carried out rescue operations in the meantime.
Containers of hydrogen peroxide produced by a Smart Group company named Razi Chemical Complex Limited and stored at the depot fuelled the flames, said the administration’s investigators.
The inland depot was set up through the investment of private companies in Bangladesh and the Netherlands in 2011. It is owned by Mostafizur Rahman, chairman of the Bangladesh Smart Group of Industries and his younger brother Mujibur Rahman, an Awami League leader from the Chattogram South District.
The fire service has also singled out hydrogen peroxide as the cause of the fire, which escalated with intermittent blasts. The fire service lost nine members in the incident.
During the efforts to douse the fire, Chattogram Fire Service and Civil Defence Deputy Director Anisur Rahman said his men initially tried to bring the flames under control with water as usual, but it triggered the explosions. They had no idea about the hydrogen peroxide.
The Department of Explosives and Department of Environment pointed out that the depot had no permission to store flammable materials. They claimed that some other flame-inducing materials along with hydrogen peroxide were also responsible for the blasts.
According to the depot authority, there were 4,400 containers in it. Rescuers reported that the flames had consumed 400 of them.
The police started a case against eight individuals over the fire and fatalities charging them with mismanagement and neglect of the private terminal.
The accused are all officials of the depot – Deputy General Manager Nurul Akter, Manager (admin) Khaledur Rahman, Assistant Officer Abbas Ullah, Senior Executive Mohammed Nasir Uddin, Assistant Manager Abdul Aziz, Container Freight Station In-charge Saiful Islam, Station Officer Nazrul Islam and General Manager Nazmul Akter Khan.
Shafiullah said many of the accused, who also joined the efforts to douse the fire, had been injured.
“What we investigated is if there was any ill motive. There might be technical faults in storing the explosives. Other government agencies will submit their reports on the matter.”
“The law doesn’t permit falsely accusing someone for something they are not responsible for supervising.”