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Criminal trial over 2010 Love Parade stampede abandoned without conclusion

By | Published on Tuesday 5 May 2020

Love Parade

A German court has ended without conclusion a long-running manslaughter trial in relation to the stampede at the 2010 Love Parade event in which 21 people died.

The dance music festival, which was originally Berlin-based, but began travelling to different German cities each year in 2007, was taking place in Duisburg in 2010. The free event was always popular and – even though turnouts had fallen in preceding years – it was estimated by investigators that almost half a million people attended in 2010. The site’s capacity, however, was just 250,000.

Despite the large number of people attending, crowds entering were funnelled through a single underpass, which quickly became crowded. On the Saturday morning of the event there was a surge in the crowd, which caused panic in the tunnel, followed by a stampede that left 21 people dead and hundreds more injured.

In 2014, ten people – including the event’s organisers and city officials – were charged with negligent manslaughter and bodily harm in relation to the tragedy. It was alleged that failures in the planning process and event security had led to the crowd surge.

At the time Duisburg prosecutor Horst Bien told reporters: “Something happened on 24 Jul 2010 that should never have happened. We weren’t looking to see who was morally or politically responsible but instead focussed only on who was criminally liable”.

The trial in relation to those charges got underway in 2017. But last year prosecutors dropped their case against seven of the accused, with the three remaining defendants all working for the festival’s promoter.

According to German news agency DPA, judges overseeing the case proposed ending the criminal proceedings without conclusion last month. They said that the COVID-19 pandemic was making it hard for those proceedings to continue at the moment, while a statute of limitations under law meant any conviction would need to be secured by July.

Both the prosecution and the defendants ultimately agreed to that proposal. Unsurprisingly, relatives of the victims did not, however their approval is not required under German law for the decision to formally close the criminal proceedings to be made.