Report: Saudi trial in Mecca crane collapse to begin soon

AP News
Posted: Jul 12, 2016 7:52 AM

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Charges and a trial are expected soon in Saudi Arabia over last year's crane collapse in Mecca that killed 111 pilgrims and injured nearly 240 people just days before the start of the annual hajj pilgrimage, according to a report published Tuesday.

The state-linked Al-Riyadh newspaper said the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution in Mecca has handed over its findings to Mecca's criminal court for judicial review. Details of the investigation have not been made public.

The crane collapsed amid unusually strong winds on Sept. 11, piercing through parts of the roof of the Grand Mosque that houses the cube-shaped Kaaba and bringing down slabs of concrete on worshippers below.

Dozens of cranes surround Mecca's Grand Mosque, part of a massive construction effort headed by the Saudi Binladin Group. The Binladin family has been close to Saudi Arabia's ruling family for decades and runs major building projects. Al-Qaida's late leader Osama bin Laden was a renegade son disowned by the family in the 1990s.

It's yet unclear who will be charged and how many facing trial will include government officials and executives and engineers from the Binladin Group.

After the incident, King Salman blamed in part the construction giant, saying the crane's arm should not have been left up when it was not in use. Several company executives were also banned from traveling abroad.

The king ordered 1 million riyals ($267,000) be paid to the relatives of those killed, and the same amount to those permanently injured. Those with lesser injuries were to receive half that amount.

It was the first of two major tragedies to mar last year's hajj. A stampede and crush of pilgrims killed more than 2,400 people on Sept. 24, according to an Associated Press count.