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Thursday, 13 February 2014

Love Parade deaths: 10 charged over crush at festival



Ten people have been charged over the deaths of 21 people in a stampede at Germany's Love Parade music festival.
The crush happened when hundreds of thousands of people tried to squeeze through a narrow tunnel that served as the only access to the grounds in 2010.
Four staff of the music festival organiser Lopavent and six members of the administration in the western city of Duisburg have been charged.
They are accused of negligent manslaughter and causing bodily harm.
More than 500 people were injured during the 24 July 2010 tragedy.
"An event where people wanted to party, dance and have fun, turned into a terrible tragedy," Duisburg's chief prosecutor Horst Bien told a press conference. "Twenty-one people had to die, hundreds were injured."
"The victims, their relatives and the bereaved are still suffering today because of the traumatic events," he added.
The state of North Rhine-Westphalia had initially investigated 16 suspects, mostly city officials and staff of the festival organisers, over claims that bad planning and poor crowd management were to blame.
Proceedings against six of them were dropped because there was not enough evidence for charges, said Mr Bien.
The then mayor of Duisburg, Adolf Sauerland, was forced to step down after a 2012 city referendum, accused of having ignored warnings that the venue was too small.
An interim police report listed a catalogue of crowd management and planning mistakes.
The grounds opened nearly two hours later than promised, leading to an initial blockage in the tunnel, and there were no loudspeakers to control the crowd, the report said.
The victims - 13 women and eight men - were aged 18 to 38 and included seven foreigners: from Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, China, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Spain.
The Love Parade started as an impromptu party on Berlin's main shopping street in 1989, before becoming an annual pilgrimage for millions of techno fans from around the world.
But, accorded the status of a political demonstration, the city authorities were landed with the clean-up costs and, as attendance exploded, friction with local residents increased.
Commercial pressures grew too, with the festival founder, Dr Motte disassociating himself from the event in later years, because of its increasing commercialisation.
In the wake of the tragedy in 2010, he blamed festival organisers for lacking concern for partygoers.
In recent years the festival had been held outside Berlin, due to problems getting permission to hold the event in the capital.

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