Initially thought to be accidental, the fire is now believed to have been set deliberately by an extortion group targeting the factory’s owners. Rehman is accused of receiving an order to start the fire. He is expected to be extradited to Pakistan where he is facing charges under terrorism legislation.
The Ali Enterprises factory fire in Karachi’s Baldia Town area was among the worst industrial disasters in Pakistan. A judicial enquiry found insufficient emergency exits, insufficient safety training, overcrowding due to bulky equipment, and insufficient regulatory oversight all contributed. German firm KIK, the facility’s main customer, paid compensation to victims.
Once facing now-abandoned murder charges, the factory’s owners are now being treated as witnesses. Papers lodged before Sindh High Court in February last year suggested an extortion plot. A reinvestigation commenced the following month, and earlier this year police confirmed they too believed an extortion gang to be responsible.
Rehman was arrested at the Royal Garden Home Hotel, where he was staying alone. He is alleged by some reporters to have connections with the Pakistaniand , something both organisations deny. He is also alleged to have worked for Karachi’s local government.
Rehman’s wife said he was innocent. Bhola is expected to be handed over to Pakistani officials on Monday.
From Wikinews under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence