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Remaining defendants in Salt Hospital case released from custody

By Rana Husseini - Apr 22,2021 - Last updated at Apr 22,2021

AMMAN — The Amman Court of First Instance on Wednesday heard the testimony of two prosecution witnesses in the New Salt Public Hospital oxygen outage case, which resulted in the death of seven patients last month.

The 13 defendants, including the hospital director and other employees, 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.

Also during the court hearing, the court decided to release the remaining 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.

The court had released the eight other defendants last week since they had been detained for over a month, their lawyers told The Jordan Times in recent interviews.

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 COVID-19 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.

Presiding Judge Udai Freihat adjourned the session until Sunday to hear more prosecution witnesses in the case. 

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