Love Parade stampede tragedy trial set to close without guilty verdicts? | News | DW | 05.02.2019
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Love Parade stampede tragedy trial set to close without guilty verdicts?

German prosecutors have called for an early end to the negligence trial investigating the Love Parade techno music festival stampede that resulted in 21 deaths and hundreds of injuries. The accused would have to agree.

In Duisburg, Germany, the District Attorney's office has called for the suspension of charges against all individuals in the Love Parade trial.

Ten people were accused of being responsible for the July 24, 2010 tragedy in which 21 people were killed in a stampede at the Love Parade techno-music concert. Another 650 people were injured.

Four of the accused are the organizers of the then Berlin-based firm Lopavent and six others are Duisburg city officials.

Prior to the meeting of the Duisburg Regional Court — sitting in Düsseldorf in this case to allow for a larger chamber — Senior Prosecutor Uwe Mühlhoff said that three of the individuals would have to donate 10,000 euros ($11,441) to a charitable organization.

Former Duisburg mayor Adolph Sauerland in a courtroom at the Love Parade trial - (picture alliance/dpa/F. Gambarini)

The former mayor of Duisburg in court

The defendants would also have to agree to the proposal.

Seven of the 10 have indicated a willingness to end the trial, but three — those that prosecutors wish to fine — intend to resist the proposal. A lawyer for one of the three said that her client "is not giving up his right to be declared innocent."

However, prosecutors also said in their statement on Tuesday that they wouldn't agree to halting the trial with no financial penalties for any of the accused.

In German law, cases can be terminated early without legal verdicts, but with the scope for prosecutors and defendants to agree on a voluntary penalty (usually a fine or a donation) from some or all of the accused. This is particularly common in cases where prosecutors fear a guilty verdict might be difficult to achieve, or when the full trial might cost an unreasonable amount, or if there's insufficient time to complete the trial. 

In this case, prosecutors say that the 10-year statute of limitations was the main hurdle to completing the trial.

A looming time limit

Prosecutors were looking at a deadline of July 28, 2020, even as they still had several hundred witnesses to be heard. 

There was also the matter of more evidence that would have had to have been presented in the hearings.

In calling for an end to the proceedings, Mühlhoff said that an essential goal of the process had already been achieved: the enlightenment of the public to the causes of the accident.

He added that admitting more evidence and listening to more testimony would only have a "limited" impact on what the public knows.

According to the court's judgement, the tragedy was a "collective failure," with individuals' share of the guilt only small or moderate.

The ten defendants have until midnight to take a position on the possible termination of the procedure.

av/msh (AFP, dpa, epd)

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