Saudi prosecutors bring charges over Grand Mosque crane disaster


Suspects including engineers and two government employees would face trial in Saudi Arabia over the deaths of 107 people when a crane toppled over at Mecca’s Grand Mosque last year.

At least six Nigerian pilgrims died in the September 2015.

A government official said on condition of anonymity on Tuesday in Riyadh that the move was a reflection of government thinking.

He said that investigators and the prosecution had completed an eight-month investigation into the case that was conducted in secrecy and which involved questioning a number of suspects.

The official said those charged included engineers and two officials working for two government bodies in Mecca, but did not specify what the charges were or how many people would face trial.

He said the move had become imperative because the crane disaster was embarrassing for the Saudi royal family.

The source said that government had since suspended the construction giant, Saudi Binladin Group, the main contractor on the mosque expansion, from seeking new contracts and placed travel bans on its senior executives, penalties that were later lifted.

The crane fell over at Mecca’s Grand Mosque in September 2015, less than two weeks before Islam’s annual haj pilgrimage.

Saudi Binladin Group, one of the largest contracting companies in the kingdom, which was founded more than 80 years ago, had been carrying out expansion work at the mosque.

The company has long been regarded in the conservative Islamic Kingdom as the government’s favourite contractor for important or sensitive work, including defence and security projects and jobs in Mecca’s holy places. (Reuters/NAN)

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