Riyadh: In a major decision taken for the victims, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court has ordered retrial of the September 2015 crane crash in Masjid al Haram Makkah, also overturning the acquittal of the defendants.
The Saudi Supreme Court’s order came seven years after the Makkah Haram crane accident.
The accident had claimed the lives of 108 people, including 11 Indians, and injury of another 238 when a crane involved in the Haram expansion project crashed on September 11, 2015.
The incident occurred as hundreds of thousands of Muslims were due to gather from around the world for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
The Saudi Supreme Court in its latest decision said the accident pointed to the lack of the required highest degree of precaution for the lives the pilgrims at the peak Hajj season and also in the wake of the fluctuations of weather conditions during that period, according to Okaz/Saudi Gazette.
“It was found during the consideration of the case that there was insufficient research regarding the existence of an alert regarding the weather situation related to the incident in terms of wind direction and speed when this alert was issued and how it was communicated to the stakeholders,” the court said.
The indictment also pointed out that the crane operator did not provide specific information about the wind speed at which the cranes should be turned off.
The Saudi Supreme Court in its latest decision said it examined various aspects of the case as well as the investigations conducted over the incident and the rulings issued in this regard.
The court said it reviewed the request of the Ministry of Finance to remove the crane as it was no longer needed. The court noted that the defendants had not submitted evidence for allowing the crane to remain erected there with an explicit written directive from the project owner or the supervising consultant.
The Court of Appeal had upheld on Aug. 4, 2021 the verdict of the Makkah Criminal Court to acquit all the defendants in the crane crash case.
In December 2020, the Criminal Court issued its verdict for the third time, acquitting all the 13 defendants in the case, including the Saudi Bin Laden Group.
The court clarified then that it was found nothing new except what it had ruled earlier and that it will send the copy of the verdict to the Court of Appeal to decide what it deems fit.
In an earlier verdict on Oct. 1, 2017, the Criminal Court had acquitted all the 13 defendants who were charged with negligence. The Makkah court had also ruled that the disaster was caused by heavy rains and thunderstorms, rather than human error or fault.
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