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Bail granted in Pakistani fire case

KARACHI, Pakistan — A Pakistani court granted bail to three owners of a garment factory in the southern city of Karachi where a fire this week killed 258 people, a defense lawyer said Friday, infuriating families of those who perished in the country’s worst industrial accident.

Pakistani police have opened a murder case and are investigating whether possible negligence by the owners and managers of the garment factory led to the massive loss of life in the Tuesday night fire.

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The way the factory workers died has infuriated many Pakistanis. People caught in the basement suffocated when it filled with smoke while those on the higher floors were forced to break through metal bars over the windows and jump for their lives to the ground below.

News that the men had been granted bail without even being arrested — a legal practice in Pakistan that allows people to avoid jail — outraged families still grieving their dead.

‘‘The owners of the garment factory should be arrested and hanged as quickly as possible,’’ said Zaitoon Bibi, who lost her son in the fire. ‘‘I do not think I will get justice as these owners are powerful and rich.’’

A lawyer for the men, Amir Mansoob Qureshi, said the judge instructed the police that the factory owners cannot be arrested for eight days under bail terms. The court also asked the owners to surrender their passports and ordered them not to leave the country, the lawyer said.

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