RIYADH: A Saudi court dismissed the charges against 13 accused over a crane collapse that killed dozens at the Grand Mosque, a newspaper reported on its website. The prosecution objected to the ruling and said an appeal would be lodged, said the Okaz daily.
The accused included at least one Saudi “billionaire” and citizens from Pakistan, the Philippines, Canada, and several Arab countries, the Okaz and Saudi Gazette newspapers reported when the trial began in August.
Five months on, the criminal court in Makkah said on Thursday it did not have jurisdiction to hear cases involving “safety breaches”, the Okaz reported. There was no clarification why Thursday’s report referred to 13 accused, while previously 14 were mentioned.
They were charged with “negligence leading to death, damaging public property and ignoring safety guidelines” at the site of the Grand Mosque where a crane collapsed in September 2015, the Okaz and Saudi Gazette said.
It was one of several cranes the Saudi Binladin Group had employed as part of a multi-billion-dollar expansion to accommodate increasing numbers of the faithful. At least 109 people died, including foreign pilgrims, leading King Salman to suspend the firm for several months from new public contracts.
The Okaz and Saudi Gazette reported last week that Judge Abdulaziz Hamoud al-Tuairki had rejected a plea from defence lawyers to prevent newspapers from covering the case. He said they could appeal his ruling.
The court would in the next two weeks review the entire case, the newspapers said at the time.