Acquittal of 13 crane crash defendants may be revoked


By Adnan Al-Shabrawi

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — The acquittal of the 13 defendants in the Grand Mosque crane crash case might be revoked, according to informed judicial sources.

The sources expected the Supreme Court, which is the highest judicial authority, to reject the acquittal of all the defendants and to return back the case to the Summary Court in Makkah for a retrial.

The giant crane, owned and operated by the Binladen Group, fell down on the eastern part of the Grand Mosque on Sept. 15, 2015 killing 110 people and injuring 209 others.

Saleh Misfir Al-Ghamdi, a lawyer who is representing four of the defendants, said the Supreme Court has the right to rescind the acquittal of all the defendants even after it was upheld by the Court of Appeals.

"The case will go back to the zero point. The sessions will start again. The court will summon all the defendants and the witnesses," he said.

The Summary Court in Makkah's 108-page ruling on Oct. 2 last year acquitted and decided that they will not be committed to pay diah (blood money) to the victims.

The court said the incident took place on an official holiday and the crane was placed in correct upright position. "There was no negligence on the part of the accused," it said.

The court said the incident was caused by rains and heavy thunderous winds which were not anticipated.

The court wrote its acquittal ruling in 25 pages and the replies of the defendants and the defense of the defending lawyers in 75 pages.

The Public Prosecution decided to appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court and said in a memorandum to the court that negligence and a lack of commitment toward safety rules were the reasons for the crash.

The attorney general also said the defense of the accused was not accurate, there was no proof that enough safety measures were taken, there was no one of the 3,300 employees at the site during the crash and that the executing company did not consider weather alerts despite two previous warnings.

The attorney general insisted on the revocation of the acquittal and asked the court to oblige the defendants to pay the diah and to pay for the damage in the Grand Mosque.