Riyadh opens trial over 2015 Mecca crane collapse

Riyadh opens trial over 2015 Mecca crane collapse
A trial is underway for 14 people over a deadly crane incident in Saudi Arabia that killed more than 100 people last year at Islam's holiest site.
2 min read
13 August, 2016
Amid unusually strong winds, the 1,350-ton crane collapsed onto the mosque [Anadolu]
Fourteen people have gone on trial in Saudi Arabia over a crane collapse in Mecca that killed 111 pilgrims and injured hundreds more just days before the start of the annual hajj pilgrimage last year, local media reported on Thursday.

The defendants are accused of "negligence leading to death, damaging public property and ignoring safety guidelines" at the site of the crane collapse in September 2015, according to the Okaz and Saudi Gazette newspapers.

The defendants include at least one Saudi "billionaire" and nationals from Pakistan, the Philippines, Canada, and several Arab countries, the papers said.

Their names were not made public but they all are employees of the Saudi Binladin Group, the construction giant that was operating the crane.

Saudi King Salman sanctioned the company after he reviewed an investigative committee's findings that the firm was "in part responsible" for the crane collapse.

The criminal court in Jeddah, where the trial began on Wednesday, ordered a new session for next month to allow the defence to respond.

The tragedy at the Grand Mosque in the Saudi city of Mecca killed at least 108 people and injured about 400, including foreigners who had arrived ahead of the annual hajj pilgrimage. 

Amid unusually strong winds, the 1,350-ton crane collapsed onto the mosque that houses Islam's holiest site, the cube-shaped Kaaba, bringing down slabs of concrete on worshippers below.

Days after the crane collapse, a second tragedy struck when more than 2,000 people died in a stampede near Mecca during the annual hajj - in contrast to Saudi reports that claimed a much lower death toll.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the interior minister who also chairs the Hajj committee, ordered a probe immediately after the stampede disaster but there has been no word on its findings.

Agencies contributed to this report.