Defendants in Salt hospital case plead not guilty

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AMMAN — All 13 defendants in the Salt Hospital case on Sunday entered a not-guilty plea in the first hearing of the high-profile trial.

The defendants, who are charged with causing the death of seven people at the hospital earlier this month due to an oxygen outage, were also denied bail.

The case is being tried by Amman Reconciliation Court after it was relocated from Salt, 15, due to a security and logistical reason and by an order of the Cassation Court.

Eleven defendants attended the session in person, while two attended online because they had tested positive for COVID-19, one of the defendant’s lawyers told Jordan News.  Many of the men on trial are employees of the hospital, including its former director, who was sacked after the disaster.

Ibrahim Al-Tahrawi, a lawyer defending one of the defendants, said the judiciary is accelerating its proceedings due to public attention, and the fact that His Majesty King Abdullah was on the scene hours after the news broke that COVID-19 patients were dying because the hospital’s oxygen reserves ran out.

The investigation, led by a public prosecutor, found that the employee tasked with handling the oxygen supplies is trained as a nurse who had no experience in the field. The job requires someone specialized in medical engineering, according to a copy of the charge list made available to Jordan News.

The defendants, whose detention was extended for another week, include top-ranking officials such as the Health Ministry’s assistant secretary general for technical and health affairs, assistant secretary general for services and the director of medical engineering at the ministry. The former minister of health, Nathir Obeidat, resigned his job.

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