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Calls for Saudi to be tried for Mecca 'crime'

September 26, 2015 7:05 pm

The death toll in a crush outside Mecca has risen to 769 amid calls from Iran for Saudi officials to be tried in an international court for what it calls a crime.

The death toll in a crush at the annual haj pilgrimage outside Mecca rose to 769, Saudi Arabia said, as arch-rival Iran said Saudi officials should be tried in an international court for what it called a crime.

The worst disaster to befall the Islamic event in a quarter of a century occurred on Thursday as two large groups of pilgrims arrived together at a crossroads in Mina, a few kilometers outside the holy city.

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“The latest statistics up to this hour reveal 769 dead. That is an increase of 52 on the previous figures,” Saudi health minister Khalid al-Falih told a news conference.

“Those are the ones who died in various hospitals since the event,” he said, adding that 934 people were wounded.

Shi’ite Muslim Iran, which is locked in a series of proxy wars in Arab countries around the Sunni Muslim kingdom, said that at least 136 Iranians were among the dead, sparking protests and outrage in the Islamic Republic on Friday.

Over 300 other Iranians remained unaccounted for, including former ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Roknabadi, Fars news agency reported.

“We will urge international courts and circles to start the trial of the Saudis for their crimes against haj pilgrims,” Iran’s Prosecutor General Ebrahim Raisi was quoted as saying by student news agency ISNA on Saturday.

“This is not incompetence, it’s a crime,” Raisi told state broadcaster IRIB.

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