Twenty-one people found guilty of criminal charges related to Jeddah flood disasters have been sentenced to jail for a total of 85 years and fines of SR 6.5 million, according to sources at the third district administrative court in Jeddah.
The flood disasters in 2009 and 2011 left over 133 people dead and over SR 1 billion in damage to private and public property. The government paid out millions in compensation to victims and their families.
Fifteen people have been cleared of all charges. They include workers, businessmen, honorary members of a sports club and a number of well-known football players.
A number of trials are still under way, out of 100 cases before the courts.
In one case, a notary public received a bribe of SR 16 million to fabricate a deed for a four million square meter piece of land. Among the people on trial were real estate developers and businessmen.
A senior official at the municipality and a businessman were convicted and sentenced each to five years in jail and a fine of SR 700,000.
The source revealed that the municipal official gave permission for the public to buy and build homes in the Quwaizah district, the area devastated by the floods.
The source said the official's signature was on the Quwaizah neighborhood blueprints and that he had not surveyed the area. A number of maps were shown during the trial that proved, contrary to the claims of the official, that the land in question was on a flood course of a valley.
Investigations revealed that the former official got a bribe of SR 5 million in return for his signature on the plan. The court source said that the official, by doing so, violated regulations on land prone to floods.
The source told Arab News that during the trial, the official got a heart attack when he heard the verdict against him. The court turned down a motion to release him on bail and instructed medical treatment for him inside prison.
The source said that one of the prominent suspects exonerated was a well-known businessman and president of a popular sports club in Jeddah. He was initially accused of paying around SR 6 million over five years to the former deputy mayor of Jeddah, in return for a project to build a bridge over a Jeddah flood route. After presenting a rebuttal and 17 exhibits, the court exonerated him.
One person was sentenced in absentia. The court ruled that he spend six years in jail and pay a fine of SR 600,000.
The court source said that the state has objected to a number of verdicts to exonerate defendants. These cases are now on appeal.

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JEDDAH: KHALID AL-SIBYANI
Thu, 2013-03-07 04:59
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