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Germany

Prosecutors narrow down Love Parade investigations

State prosecutors are investigating 16 officials over the Love Parade stampede in Duisburg last July in which 21 people died, but the suspects don't include the mayor of the city who was criticized following the event.

The Love Parade tunnel in Duisburg

21 people died in a tunnel at the entrance to the festival

Prosecutors in Germany said on Tuesday they are investigating 16 officials over last July's stampede at the Love Parade music festival in Duisburg in which 21 people were crushed to death. The suspects include city hall employees and members of the police force.

Six months after the tragedy prosecutors have said they are narrowing down their investigations. Although the 16 suspects have not been named, it seems neither the mayor of Duisburg, Adolf Sauerland nor the event organizer Rainer Schaller is among them.

Instead most of those under investigation are officials from the police or local authorities. They are suspected of causing death by negligence and bodily harm by negligence. If found guilty, they could face sentences of between three and five years.

The authorities have not ruled out widening investigations at a later date.

Mayor Adolf Sauerland

Adolf Sauerland has had to defend his position

Sauerland said he stood "completely" behind his city employees and said he was convinced "that we all acted to the best of our knowledge and our conscience and that we did our duty."

According to the German news magazine Der Spiegel the suspects include the crowd manager who worked for the event organizer Lopavent as well as a leading police official.

Blame game

The German Police Union put the burden of responsibility on the city of Duisburg and on Lopavent.

"Those responsible must be investigated and brought to justice. We value a thorough investigation in the interest of the victims and their families," said Ralf Jäger interior minister in the North Rhine-Westphalia state government.

Jäger demanded that city authorities avoid cutting corners when dealing with crowd safety.

The 2010 Love Parade electronic dance festival ended in disaster when a ramp between a tunnel underpass and the festival ground became overcrowded. Twenty-one people were crushed to death and hundreds more were injured.

Authorities have taken statements from more than 2,200 witnesses in the past six months. The evidence includes hundreds of photos and hours of video footage along with electronic data. Around 90 people are involved in the investigations.

Author: Joanna Impey (AP, dpa)
Editor: Rob Turner

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