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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Binladin Group cleared of deadly Makkah crane collapse 

The construction firm's defence team claimed the group could not have predicted the severe thunderstorm and violent winds that caused the crane to fall, according to the Arabic-language Asharq Al Awsat daily newspaper

The collapsed crane, pictured here at the Grand Mosque in Mecca on September 12, 2015, killed at least 107 people and injured 400, just days before Hajj. AFP
The collapsed crane, pictured here at the Grand Mosque in Mecca on September 12, 2015, killed at least 107 people and injured 400, just days before Hajj. AFP

A Saudi Arabian court has cleared the Binladin Group of responsibility for the 2015 crane collapse in Makkah that killed more than 100 people, Saudi press reported on Monday.

At least 107 people were killed and some 400 injured on September 11, 2015, when the crane toppled over near the Grand Mosque in Makkah amid stormy weather, just days before Hajj.

The Binladin Group's defence team claimed the Saudi Arabia-based construction firm could not have predicted the severe thunderstorm and violent winds that caused the crane to fall, according to the Arabic-language Asharq Al Awsat daily newspaper.

The verdict can still be appealed.

The construction firm had been working for years on a multi-billion-dollar 400,000 square-metre enlargement of the Grand Mosque to accommodate increasing numbers of pilgrims to the site. The crane that collapsed was one of several erected by the Binladin Group as part of the project.

King Salman suspended the Binladin Group from new public contracts for several months after the tragedy.

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The latest ruling comes after a Saudi appeals court in May ordered about a dozen people accused of negligence in the crane collapse to stand trial again.

The Makkah criminal court originally ruled it had no jurisdiction over allegations of “safety breaches”, the Okaz and Saudi Gazette newspapers reported. But the appeals court judges overturned that ruling by a vote of five to two.

The accused included at least one Saudi “billionaire” and nationals of Pakistan, the Philippines, Canada and several Arab countries, the newspapers reported. They were charged with “negligence leading to death, damaging public property and ignoring safety guidelines”.

No details have yet been given of when hearings might resume, and different reports give different figures for the number of accused, which are either 13 or 14.

The Binladin Group, which has developed landmark buildings in the kingdom, was founded more than 80 years ago by the father of former Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

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