Saudi court drops Mecca crane collapse case

The Mecca Criminal Court said it had no jurisdiction to rule on the case, which opened last August.

A file photo of the crane that collapsed at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy Muslim city of Mecca in September 2015, killing more than 100 pilgrims. AFP Photo
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Riyadh // A Saudi court on Thursday dismissed charges against 13 people over a crane collapse in 2015 that more than 100 people in Mecca.

The Mecca Criminal Court said it had no jurisdiction to rule on the case, which opened last August.

Fourteen people had initially gone on trial, accused of negligence, damaging public property and ignoring safety guidelines. The court didn’t mention the discrepancy in the number of defendants.

The prosecution objected to the ruling and asked to appeal, said the Okaz daily, which has closely followed the case.

The accused included at least one Saudi "billionaire" and nationals from Pakistan, the Philippines, Canada, and several Arab countries, the Okaz and Saudi Gazette newspapers reported when the trial began.

The crane fell into a courtyard of the Grand Mosque during strong winds in September 2015, just days before the start of the Haj. At least 109 people were killed, including foreign pilgrims, and hundreds of others were injured.

It was one of several cranes the Saudi Binladin Group had employed as part of a multibillion-dollar expansion to accommodate increasing numbers of faithful.

King Salman suspended the firm from new public contracts for several months after the collapse.

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 newspapers reported at the time that the court would review the entire case in the next two weeks.

A Saudi Binladin Group spokesman could not be immediately reached to comment on the court case.

* Associated Press and Agence France-Presse