Saudi Arab

Saudi court slaps SR20m fine in 2015 crane crash case

The Criminal Court of Appeal in Mecca on Tuesday slapped fines amounting to SR20 million on the Saudi Bin Ladin Group after its conviction of negligence and violation of safety rules in the Mecca Grand Mosque crane crash case.

The court ruled that the company is not required to pay blood money for the kin of those killed in the accident.

The court’s order came more than seven years after the Haram crane accident, which claimed the lives of 108 people and injured another 238 when a crane involved in the Haram expansion project crashed on Sept. 11, 2015.

The Mecca court found seven defendants guilty of negligence and violation of safety rules. Three of these defendants were sentenced to six months in prison and fines amounting to SR30,000 while four others were awarded three months in jail and SR15,000 in fines.

According to informed sources, the verdict will be considered final unless a cassation request is submitted to the Supreme Court in accordance with the regular procedures. The Mecca court reexamined the case after an order for a retrial of the case by the Saudi Supreme Court in July 2022. The Supreme Court overturned the acquittal of the defendants by the lower courts in the case.

Earlier, the Court of Appeal upheld on Aug. 4, 2021, the verdict of the Mecca Criminal Court to acquit all the defendants in the case. In December 2020, the Mecca Criminal Court issued its verdict for the third time, acquitting all 13 defendants in the case, including the Saudi Binladin Group.

The court clarified then that it was found nothing new except what it had ruled earlier and that it will send a copy of the verdict to the Court of Appeal to decide what it deems fit.

In a previous verdict on Oct. 1, 2017, the Criminal Court had acquitted all 13 defendants who were charged with negligence. The Mecca court had also ruled that the disaster was caused by heavy rains and thunderstorms, rather than human error or fault.

Consequently, the First Circuit of the Supreme Court decided to overturn all the verdicts issued by the Criminal Court and the Court of Appeal in the crane crash case. It ordered that all the cases shall be reexamined by a new judicial circuit and that the circuit shall not include any one of the judges who had previously considered the case.

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