By Adnan Al-Shabrawi
JEDDAH — A year has passed, according to the Islamic calendar, since the crash of a giant crane in the Grand Mosque in Makkah, yet the trial of 14 people accused of involvement in the incident is still continuing.
The Summary Court in Jeddah held a number of sessions but recessed to continue after Haj.
The defendants are facing 20 charges foremost of which is negligence in the application of safety measures which led to the crash and the subsequent death of 110 people and injury of 209 others. The charges also include property damage.
The attorney general is seeking harsh punishment for the 14 defendants consisting of six Saudis and eight expatriates.
Nine of them are safety officials in the Binladen Group involved in the Haram expansion project.
The attorney is calling for trying the defendants under the public right and said the private rights of the victims could be considered later.
He accused the Binladen Group and executive directors of the expansion project of failure to follow up on the reports about the weather forecast.
A technical committee of Umm Al-Qura University will also appear before the court under charges of negligence in following up on the progress of work in the project.
The investigations conducted by the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution (BIP) continued for about 300 days and covered more than 80 people.
The Civil Defense, the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) and the department of projects in the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques have all submitted reports to the court containing their views about the incident.
The Civil Defense told the court that they had already warned the group that there were severe shortcomings in safety measures.
The Civil Defense said it had also asked the group to halt all crane work when the speed of wind reached 35 km/h.