260 workers were killed in the blaze in 2012

260 workers were killed in the blaze in 2012

A Pakistani court has ruled a garment factory fire in 2012 that killed more than 260 workers was in fact arson and not accidental as it sentenced two former political party activists to death for starting it.

According to a report by Reuters, the Anti-Terrorism Court found that the men set the factory ablaze because the owners did not give in to their extortion demands and pay them money.

The fire took place at Ali Enterprises, a multi-storey unit for readymade garment manufacturing in the southern city of Karachi.

Last year an international coalition of eight human rights, labour and consumer organisations filed a complaint against Italian auditing firm RINA alleging it ignored "fatal flaws" in factory safety systems.

According to the Clean Clothes Campaign, the high death toll in the Ali Enterprises factory fire demonstrates that the certification process ignored major safety issues. In a digital simulation of the fire, research agency Forensic Architecture, based at Goldsmiths University in London, showed that if the factory's leniency on safety standards would have been identified and acted upon, hundreds of lives could have been saved.

RINA defended its actions at the time saying the company, which was audited two months before the fire, showed it "was compliant" with the SA800 standard.

A spokesperson told just-style today (24 September) it was aware of the court's ruling, however its position remains "unchanged".