Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saudi Arabia steps up Jeddah flood trials | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat – A former Jeddah Council official being tried by a 3-man judicial panel – headed by Sheikh Saad al-Maliki – at the Saudi Administrative Court on Tuesday claimed that he was unable to respond to allegations of bribery, citing his inability to obtain the required documentation from the relevant government agencies. This led to the judicial panel granting the defendant additional time to respond to the charges against him, and obtain the documentation that he claims will prove his innocence. The court announced that the defendant must appear in court on 25 October to respond to the charges against him.

The defendant is facing charges of accepting bribes totaling approximately 6 million Saudi Riyals [SR] during his tenure as the Jeddah Director of Flood Drainage projects three years ago. This includes his supervision of a flood drainage project in the Umm Al-Khair District of Jeddah. Flooding in Jeddah in late 2009 and early 2011 resulted in the deaths of more than 130 people, not to mention significant destruction of public and private property. The defendant is also charged with a number of other crimes, including falsifying document, misuse of power, and misappropriation of public funds.

Other defendants linked to this trial have also appeared in court, including a Syrian national and a Jordanian national accused of acting as intermediaries between the former Jeddah Director of Flood Drainage projects and construction companies. The defendant allegedly accepted bribes ranging between 60 thousand SR and 180 thousand SR – via the Syrian and Jordanian nationals – to grant construction companies contracts for these flood drainage projects.

Figures implicated in the Jeddah floods continue to be charged with crimes relating to this, most recently a construction company, and a businessman. The judicial panel is also looking at the case of three engineers who worked for contracting companies and were responsible for supervising a number of Jeddah municipality projects, bringing the total number of former officials being tried by the Saudi courts for their part in the November 2009 and January 2011 Jeddah floods to 47. This also includes former and present Jeddah municipality, water department, and notary office, officials, as well as a number of contractors and engineers. A number of expatriate workers of Syrian, Jordanian, and Egyptian nationalities have also been charged with taking or paying bribes.