5 defendants in Salt Hospital case released from custody

The case is ongoing in the court and two prosecution witnesses are expected to appear in court on Wednesday

  

AMMAN - The Amman Court of First Instance on Tuesday released five of the 13 defendants standing trial in the case of the oxygen outage at the New Salt Public Hospital, which resulted in the death of seven patients last month, one of the lawyers said.

The defendants are standing trial in the case on seven counts of causing death by association and for violating articles 343 and 76 of the Penal Code.

“The court decided to release the five defendants from custody because the law stipulates that they cannot be detained for more than one month based on the misdemeanour charges they face,” lawyer Amer Qudah said.

Qudah told The Jordan Times that the case is ongoing in the court and two prosecution witnesses are expected to appear in court on Wednesday to testify in the case.

"Releasing the defendants will make it easier for us to meet them and learn more about the circumstances surrounding the incident," Qudah, one of 15 lawyers representing the defendants, added.

The defendants, who pleaded not guilty during their opening trial earlier this week, were tried via a TV feed as a precautionary health measure due to the pandemic.

Among the defendants standing trial were the secretary general of the Ministry of Health, assistant secretary general for Health and Technical Affairs, assistant secretary general for Services Affairs, and the director of the Biomedical Engineering Department.

Over 70 witnesses and experts are expected to testify on matters related to prior knowledge of the Prevention Department in the Civil Defence Department, the contents of the hospitals and staff cameras, duration of oxygen disruption, functionality of the gas system, the deteriorating health status of the patients affected, chest diseases, Building Management System (BMS), and government autopsies results.

The prosecution office has indicated in its investigation that all defendants failed to follow proper caution and consideration of laws and regulations, whether they were from the Ministry of Health or affiliated with the hospital administration.

This, according to the prosecution office, resulted in an oxygen outage at the ICU for around one hour, which ultimately resulted in several deaths and further health complications to the patients who were at the unit on March 13.

Government health officials confirmed that all the deceased in this incident were COVID-19 patients and all were above the age of 40.

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