Court clears defendants in tainted water case

The Qanater el-Khairiya Midemeanor Court acquitted nine defendants Thursday who had been accused of contaminating public water supplies in the village of el-Baradaa in the urban Qalioubiya province. A number of villagers reportedly contracted typhoid after drinking tainted water.

The court, under presiding judge Ahmed el-Khatib, rejected a civil lawsuit raised against local officials and the Potable Water Authority, which answers to the Housing Ministry.

The verdict was delivered in 15 minutes. The plaintiffs were present for the session, while defendants were not in attendance.

Providing its reasons for the acquittal, the court stated that the first five defendants–all local officials–had committed an administrative error by employing a new water network that was installed before its water pipes had been adequately purged. Judges cited the absence of danger when explaining their decision.

Meanwhile, the remaining defendants–the general manager of the Executive Authority for Water Projects, his deputy and two senior engineers employed by the Arab Contractors Company–were not found to be responsible for flaws in the new network, which had not yet been activated. This, according to judges, served to absolve the defendants of charges of negligence.

Judges went on to say that the defendants that worked for the company had only one commitment–to install a new water network under the supervision of the sixth and seventh defendants. This commitment had been based on a contract that did not impose any requirements regarding the old network or the relative cleanliness of the new one.

Instead, the court cast blame for the crisis on local residents, who expressed shock upon hearing the verdict.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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