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Makkah crane disaster: Saudi billionaire, 13 others in the dock

11 August 2016 22:16
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Makkah crane disaster: Saudi billionaire, 13 others in the dock

JEDDAH. KAZINFORM - A Saudi billionaire and several other defendants faced a judicial committee made up of three judges in the first hearing of the Grand Mosque crane collapse case on Wednesday, as the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution (BIPP) completed its investigations which took 290 days, Arab News reports.

Six Saudis will be reportedly on trial, in addition to a Pakistani, a Jordanian, a Filipino, a Canadian, a Palestinian, an Egyptian and an Emirati, who all face manslaughter charges.

In the accident last year, 110 people died, eight were left with disabilities, 210 were injured, according to reports from the Ministry of Health and the BIPP.

Sources confirmed that the black box report of the crane is being analyzed by the manufacturing company to find out what exactly happened.

Authorities reached accurate information on the angle of the fall - 87 degrees. There is also information about the wind speed around the main arm, and the maximum permitted speed of the wind, as well as the operations carried in the last minutes and 24 hours before the fall, when the wind was blowing at 89 kph.

The hearings also revealed technical information about the crane's strength, its movement with high wind, the movement of the arm before the fall and the declared time of the fall.

The BIPP called members of a technical committee, formed from among Um Al-Qura University specialists, based on whose declarations it decided to prosecute some of those involved.

Investigators questioned the project manager, in the offices of the president overseeing the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and Prophet's Mosque, and the senior engineer, at the Ministry of Finance and in front of specialized bodies from the Civil Defense in the Holy Capital.

They also reviewed technical and engineering reports prepared by Aramco, in addition to reports by the General Authority of Environment Protection and Meteorology.

Investigators questioned all officials, specialists and supervisors responsible for the security of the project.

BIPP asked the director of Um Al-Qura University to review the contract between the technical committee of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Project and Ben Laden group, as well as the committee's tasks and responsibilities in regards to safety operations of the project.

It addressed the crane operating and manufacturing company and questioned more than 170 workers, technicians, engineers, specialists and supervisors working for the Ben Laden Group.

It leveled charges against 14 people for manslaughter and causing injuries and damage because of lack of knowledge of safety regulations and of how to deal with weather conditions that could affect such a gigantic crane that measures 200 meters in length and weighs 1,350 tons.

Judiciary sources said charges are mainly of negligence, manslaughter, and causing injuries and disabilities.

However, sources stress that no judgement should be passed before the judiciary gives its verdict.

The judicial committee summoned all defendants to court to hear the charges with the presence of a team from BIPP, as stipulated in the litigation system. Defendants who fail to attend will be dealt with strictly.

Sources confirmed that BIPP in the Holy City started investigations since the issuance of the royal decree; it interrogated a number of specialists, officials and engineers in Ben Laden Group. It also reviewed and studied hundreds of documents and reviewed maintenance and safety procedures related to the project, as well as letters and emails between directors and operators at the site.

The investigation team is made up of people with expertise from the BIPP and several directorates.

Source: Arab News


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