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Germany

Duisburg mayor says he's going nowhere, at least for now

The mayor of Duisburg has said he wants a satisfactory explanation to the causes of the Love Parade tragedy before deciding whether or not to resign. In a TV interview, he insisted authorities had not made mistakes.

Adolf Sauerland

Sauerland wants answers before deciding on his position

Adolf Sauerland, mayor of Duisburg, has reaffirmed his decision not to stand down - at least until events leading to the Love Parade tragedy have been fully explained.

In a television interview on Sunday, Sauerland said he was prepared to consider his position in light of the disaster in which 21 people died. However, he said he was firstly concerned with a thorough investigation into the causes.

"Of course I ask myself the question of whether one can remain in office after such a tragic event," Sauerland told the regional public broadcaster WDR.

"I will only answer that when I can answer the questions that are haunting all of us."

'A terrible dream'

The Duisburg Love Parade site

The suitability of the site has been placed in question

The mayor said he still found it difficult to come to terms with the tragedy. On July 24, 21 people died after being crushed to death when a stampede broke out in an overcrowded access tunnel leading to the Love Parade music festival. Many blame the city - and the mayor - for allowing the event to go ahead at the site, a former railway goods yard.

"Every morning when I wake up I wish that everything that we experienced was just a terrible dream - but it is reality," said Sauerland.

The 55-year-old took the opportunity to express his sorrow, and that of his administration, to relatives of the victims: "I regret it, we regret it. Our regret is unbounded."

However, Sauerland would not concede that his authorities had made a mistake. "It is always easier to be wise after the event," he said, adding that the security and safety plan had been drawn up carefully. In addition to the city making its own requirements, third parties had also been consulted, he said.

The crowd at Duisburg, away from the tragedy

Police criticized organizers for their management of the event

Crucial confidence vote

The mayor is preparing to face a confidence vote in September from members of Duisburg city council, which could see him forced out of office. The Left party and the socialist SPD party groups on the council have called for his resignation.

German President Christian Wulff also said Sauerland should accept political responsibility, and pointed out that this did not mean he would be admitting personal guilt over the deaths.

An interim police report has put the blame on organizers, listing a catalog of mistakes in managing a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people at the venue.

In a separate interview with German news magazine Der Spiegel, Sauerland admitted that projected crowd estimates of millions of visitors leading up to the event had been exaggerated by the city and the organizers of the Love Parade as a marketing strategy. Both sides knew the actual attendance figures would be much lower, Sauerland said.

Author: Richard Connor (dpa/Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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