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Thu 11 Aug 2016 10:52 AM

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Makkah crane crash trial begins following months of investigations

Fourteen people including a Saudi billionaire and 13 other defendants charged ‘with negligence’

Makkah crane crash trial begins following months of investigations
(AFP/Getty Images)

Fourteen people have gone on trial this week charged with causing the crane collapse in Makkah that left more than 100 people dead last September.

Following 290 days of investigations, the trial of a Saudi billionaire and 13 other defendants charged with causing the deaths of 111 people, injuring 210 and permanently disabling eight others on September 11 2015 began on Wednesday.

The investigating committee questioned more than 200 people working on the mosque redevelopment project, including engineers, managers and members of the boards of directors at construction giant Saudi Binladen Group, which was leading the project. The committee also spoke to several international safety companies.

Local media reported on Thursday that the 14 defendants on trial include six Saudis, two Pakistanis and one other from each of Jordan, the Philippines, Canada, Palestine, Egypt and the UAE.

The charges are mainly of negligence, manslaughter, and causing injuries and disabilities, Arab News said, and the court reportedly issued a strong warning to defendants against missing the sessions.

Meanwhile, sources said the crane’s ‘black box’ – data of which was analysed by a company in Germany – revealed that the angle of the main arm of the crane at the time of the crash was 87 degrees.

At the time, poor weather conditions were blamed in part for causing the crash – the wind speed the day before had been 80 kilometres per hour, according to data from the black box and reports from the kingdom’s Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PEM).

The crane was 200 meters high and weighed 1,350 tonnes, local media reported.