Hillsborough police commander found not guilty of manslaughter | News | DW | 28.11.2019
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Hillsborough police commander found not guilty of manslaughter

The match commander in charge during the 1989 Hillsborough football tragedy has been found not guilty of manslaughter. 96 people died as a result of the disaster.

A UK jury found the match commander at the 1989 Hillsborough soccer stadium disaster not guilty of gross negligence manslaughter on Thursday.

David Duckenfield, now 75, was in charge of police during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest when 96 people died following a crowd crush. He faced charges of manslaughter in relation to 95 of those deaths, as one victim died much later.

David Duckenfield

David Duckenfield, who was found not guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence, seen here arriving at Preston Crown Court

Christine Burke, the daughter of Henry Burke who was killed in the tragedy on April 15 1989, stood in the public gallery and addressed the judge after the verdict was heard.

"With all due respect, my lord, 96 people were found unlawfully killed to a criminal standard," she told the judge. "I would like to know who is responsible for my father's death because someone is."

Read more: Klopp and Liverpool players attend final Hillsborough memorial at Anfield

'Unimaginable suffering'

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the court's decision would come as a devastating blow for the victims' families.

"The disaster at Hillsborough 30 years ago has caused unimaginable suffering to the families of those who sadly lost their lives and to everybody affected by the tragic events of that day," said Sue Hemming, CPS Director of Legal Services.

"They were let down with the most catastrophic consequences imaginable. I know how important these proceedings have been to everyone, even though they came far too late."

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson described the outcome as a "huge disappointment" for the relatives.

He said via a statement: "In recent years they have had to relive the events of that day by sitting through the longest inquest in British legal history, followed by two trials. The toll that it has taken on their health and well-being, in addition to losing their loved ones, is unimaginable and the whole city shares their pain."

30 year process

Thursday's verdict came in a retrial that began on October 7 after the first trial was unable to reach a decision in April of this year.

The former chief superintendent of South Yorkshire Police was charged in June 2017 after a fresh police investigation more than 28 years after the tragedy occurred.

The original 1991 inquest reached a verdict of accidental death, but was quashed 21 years later after a lengthy campaign by bereaved families.

The Hillsborough disaster, with 96 fatalities and 766 injuries, remains the worst disaster in British sporting history.

Watch video 01:55

Hillsborough victims remembered 30 years on

jsi/aw (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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