Last year’s crane collapse in Mecca has resulted in 14 people going on trial in Saudi Arabia. Local media say they face charges of negligence and violating safety rules. The tragedy claimed the lives of 111 pilgrims.
The Saudi newspaper Okaz disclosed on Thursday that the trial had begun on Wednesday in Jeddah. The English-language Saudi Gazette newspaper said an unnamed Saudi billionaire was among the accused.
After the crane collapse on September 11, 2015, King Salman ordered a halt to contracts being awarded to the Saudi-based Binladen Group until an inquiry.
The Binladen company had managed massive construction works at Mecca.
The Gazette said the defendants included six Saudis, two Pakistanis and one person each from Jordan, the Philippines, Canada, the Palestinian territories, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
Okaz said prosecutors had decided not to file charges against 42 others who had been under investigation, including 16 members of the Binladen family.
The 1,350-ton crane collapsed during strong winds onto Mecca’s Grand Mosque, bringing down slabs of concrete on worshippers below.
King Salman later blamed the construction giant, saying the crane’s arm should not have been left up when it was not in use.
He also ordered payments to relatives of those killed and permanently injured.
Nigerian and Pakistani officials quoted by the Associated Press said Saudi Arabia had yet to pay the promised compensation.
Six Nigerians and 11 Pakistanis were among those killed.
Hajj pilgrimage stampede
In the wake of the crane collapse, a stampede and crush near Mecca on September 24, 2015 killed between 1,800 and 2,400 pilgrims, according to tallies by international news agencies.
The Binladen family, which for decades has been close to Saudi Arabia’s ruling family, disowned its renegade terrorist son, al Qaeda’s late leader Osama bin Laden, in the 1990s.
ipj/msh (dpa, AP)