Sep 12, 2016 08:33 UTC
  • Saudi rulers are criminals, must be tried over Hajj crush: Iran cleric

A senior Iranian cleric says Saudi rulers are criminals who must be tried in Islamic tribunals and punished for the deaths of thousands during a Hajj stampede last year.

According to Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami on Monday, 7,000 pilgrims lost their lives last year in the "fire of Aal-e Saud crimes" in the worst disaster in the pilgrimage's history.

"There is no doubt that Aal-e Saud rulers are not the accused but the frontline criminals in the Mina disaster and are culpable at the least," he told worshipers during Eid al-Adha prayers in Tehran. 

"These criminals must be tried in Islamic courts and receive due punishment," Ayatollah Khatami added.

The human crush happened in Mina near Mecca on September 24, 2015 when two large masses of pilgrims converged at a crossroads during the symbolic stoning of Satan in Jamarat. At least 460 Iranian pilgrims lost their lives in the tragedy - the biggest toll by a single country. 

Iran decided not to send its pilgrims this year because of “obstacles” created by Saudi Arabia and Saudi authorities' failure to guarantee their safety.

The events which led to the crush as well as Saudi authorities' handling of its aftermath drew widespread criticism and raised serious questions about their ability to manage the massive event. 

Ayatollah Khatami said," The Mina disaster showed that Aal-e Saud rulers do not deserve to manage the Two Noble Sanctuaries and a board of Muslim elites must take up the responsibility or at least administer Hajj rituals."