Retrial ordered in cases linked to Jeddah flood


Okaz/Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — As many as 320 defendants, consisting of senior government officials and businessmen accused of violations that caused the Jeddah rain and flood crisis of November 2009, will stand new trial.

The 320 defendants include 54 who were already acquitted by the court, according to judicial sources.

The sources said the defendants would be tried before the courts of appeal and the High Court for responsibility in escalating the flood crisis, which killed a number of people and destroyed huge amounts of property, including houses and cars.

They said the courts would look into a large number of deeds involving plots of land, which were illegally possessed.

The sources said the courts would consider the legality of the deeds and would investigate any loopholes in procedures that led to their ownership of land in the flood-hit areas.

According to them, the defendants included former ministers, mayors, outstanding businessmen and sports personalities.

Former officials from a number of government departments including the Jeddah Municipality, notary public, the ministries of water and justice and ranking businessmen constituted the bulk of the defendants.

The accused will face charges of accepting or giving bribes, forgery and misuse of power to make personal gains.

Subsequent investigations into the causes of the devastating floods that hit Jeddah in November 2009 and January 2011 revealed official excesses, bribery, forgery and illegal acquisition of large plots of land in the path of floodwaters.

The investigations revealed that a former Jeddah mayor, who is one of the defendants, was still on the run.

The sources said the next phase would witness a radical change in the trials. Many of the defendants who were acquitted will be recalled to stand new trials, they added.

They said the High Court nullified 54 acquittals out of 320 verdicts issued by the general courts about 30 months ago.

The sources expect the number of the accused to go up after the investigations are reopened before the retrial.

They said about 80 percent of the charges involved bribery.