A Bangladesh court has accepted murder charges against 41 people, including the owner of the Rana Plaza building that collapsed in 2013, for their roles in the disaster that killed more than 1,100 workers.

Investigators had initially said the accused would be charged with culpable homicide following charges filed by Dhaka police in June. However, more severe charges were decided on after an investigation found building owner Sohel Rana and his management had forced workers to enter the building, despite them having spotted cracks in the structure the previous day.

The maximum penalty for someone convicted of murder in Bangladesh is a death sentence, while the maximum punishment for culpable homicide is seven years in jail. The police report is understood to have described the deaths a "mass killing".

While Rana is in jail and 16 others are out on bail, arrest warrants have been issued against 24 others that have absconded, according to Sky News. An update is expected to be heard at the court on 27 January.

In a separate case, the accused are also facing charges of violating safety rules. The original five-story Rana Plaza building was meant for office space and retail stores, but four more floors were added illegally and transformed into factories, the publication noted. 

The Rana Plaza factory complex housed five factories producing clothes for retailers including Benetton, Mango, and Primark. The April 2013 disaster placed the spotlight firmly on safety standards in the garment industry and led to the formation of the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, both of which are undertaking safety inspections across all member factories in the country.