0106 GMT February 19, 2020
Speaking to Press TV on Tuesday, Ghazanfar Asl Roknabadi’s brother, Ahmad, reacted to media reports claiming that Saudi authorities have no official record on the entry of the ex-Iranian ambassador into the kingdom, Press TV reported.
“It is not recent [that] they [Saudis] have accepted this big responsibility to host millions of Hajjis (pilgrims) from all over the world,” Roknabadi said, adding, “This is not acceptable from such kind of a government… that has enough experience to issue such a… rumor and confirm that he (the former Iranian diplomat) has not even arrived.”
“Officially, he has received the visa of the Saudi consulate in Tehran and we have just delivered all official documents... through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for his visa, and also all the documents show that he has been present there. I can even give you the visa number,” he said, adding, “Also the arrival date is stamped in his passport through the Malik Abdulaziz Airport in Medina.”
He also referred to the widely-circulated footage showing Roknabadi reading out a message to pilgrims in Saudi Arabia as proof of his presence there.
Roknabadi’s brother further slammed the Saudi authorities’ poor response to the disaster, pointing to reports on their prevention of Iranian missions from providing medical service to the injured.
The crush happened last Thursday when two large crowds of pilgrims were directed to move toward each other from opposite directions in Mina.
Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization has said that 228 Iranians lost their lives in the crush and 246 more are still missing. Saeed Ohadi, the head of the organization, has said the number of the Iranian victims is expected to rise.
Some 64,000 Iranian pilgrims took part in the year’s Hajj pilgrimage.
Ohadi has estimated that the total death toll from the crush could stand at around 4,700 due to the huge scale of the incident, according to ISNA. However, the latest overall fatality figure released by Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry stands at only 769.