Fact-finding committee on Mina crush must be formed: Iranian cleric
A fact-finding committee must be formed to investigate the recent deadly crush during the Hajj rituals in Mina, outside the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, a senior Iranian cleric says.
Based on the remarks made by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and other Iranian officials, a fact-finding committee must be established to look into the Mina disaster, Hojjatoleslam Seyyed Ali Qazi-Askar, the Leader’s representative for hajj and pilgrimage affairs, said in a Monday interview with the IRIB News.
“Saudi Arabia should engage in special cooperation in determining the main culprit of the Mina incident,” Qazi-Askar stated, adding that the guilty must be dealt with “decisively”.
The crush happened on September 24 after two large masses of pilgrims fused together. Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization puts the death toll from the crush at around 4,700 people, including 464 Iranians. Saudi Arabia, however, says some 770 people have been killed.
Iran says Saudi Arabia’s incompetence in handling the safety at the rituals caused the deadly incident.
The Iranian cleric also said two groups of people lost their lives in Mina; the first died in the early moments of the tragic event due to high temperature and the crowd’s pressure, and the second succumbed to their injuries due to untimely medical care.
Qazi-Askar further referred to Ayatollah Khamenei’s “decisive and brave” stance following the calamity, saying that the Leader’s remarks caused Saudi officials to accelerate the process of repatriating the bodies of Iranian victims.
During a speech on September 30, Ayatollah Khamenei said Saudi Arabia had not made good on its obligations regarding the Hajj disaster, emphasizing that Iran’s possible response will be “tough and harsh.”
“Should we decide to show any reaction, our reaction will be tough and harsh,” said the Leader.
The bodies of 218 Iranian victims have so far been returned to the country by two separate flights. The bodies of the remaining victims, some of whom have not been identified, are kept in a cold storage facility in Mecca, and are set to be identified later in Iran.