AMMAN — The Amman Court of Appeal on Tuesday upheld a December Amman Court of First Instance’s decision to sentence five top health officials to three years in prison each on several charges related to the oxygen outage case at a local hospital that claimed the lives of 10 patients in March 2021.
The defendants, including the director of New Salt Public Hospital and other employees, stood trial on 10 counts of causing death by association and for violating articles 343 and 76 of the Penal Code.
The five convicted persons include four former directors and an oxygen technician at the hospital.
The court also ordered each defendant to pay JD3,575 in fines.
Eight other men, including former officials and hospital employees, were acquitted by the court for lack of evidence.
The defendants, all of whom are free on bail, pleaded not guilty during their opening trial in April 2021.
The Amman Court of Appeals rejected the defendants’ appeals and decided to uphold the conviction and acquittal verdicts that were issued in March 2021, a defence attorney, who preferred to remain anonymous, told The Jordan Times on Wednesday.
“The prison terms will apply to the convicted defendants once they are notified of their final verdicts,” the lawyer said.
Over 75 witnesses and experts testified during the 10-month trial on matters related to the prior knowledge of the Prevention Department in the Civil Defence Department and the contents of hospital and staff cameras on March 13, the day of the incident.
The court also heard expert testimonies on the duration of the oxygen disruption, the functionality of the gas system, the deteriorating health statuses of the affected patients, the Building Management System (BMS) and government autopsy results.
The prosecution office’s investigation indicated that all defendants failed to follow proper precautions and failed to consider laws and regulations, whether they were from the Ministry of Health, or affiliated with the hospital administration.
According to the prosecution office, these actions resulted in an oxygen outage at the intensive care unit lasting around one hour, which ultimately resulted in several deaths and worsened health complications for patients in the unit on March 13.
Government health officials confirmed that all of those who died due to this incident were COVID-19 patients above the age of 40.