Long-running German Love Parade stampede trial risks ending without verdict

Long-running German Love Parade stampede trial risks ending without verdict
A memorial set up in 2019 at the scene of the tragedy. Photo: DPA
One of the biggest trials in Germany's post-war history may end without a verdict, as a court called Tuesday for the long-running manslaughter case against organisers of the ill-fated 2010 Love Parade to be halted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Three people are in the dock over negligent manslaughter and bodily harm after the popular street festival ended in a catastrophic stampede that left 21 young people dead.

The case against seven others was halted in February 2019 with the court arguing that, with so many defendants, the individual levels of guilt were difficult to assess.

READ ALSO: 'Sledgehammer blow': Shock as Germany scales back Love Parade disaster trial

The court in Duisburg said various restrictions placed on legal proceedings to stem contagion of COVID-19, such as social distancing and the need to isolate vulnerable people, meant there was now only “a very low probability of the allegations in a way that would lead to a conviction”.

Delaying the trial would not help the case as it risks hitting the statute of limitations on July 27th this year.

Prosecutors and the defence will have up to April 20 to file submissions on the court's call.

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The state prosecutor said the proposal will be examined.

But lawyers representing co-plaintiffs said the call to halt the case would likely be accepted, spelling another “dark day for relatives and victims of the Love Parade disaster”.

Thirteen women and eight men were crushed, trampled to death or suffocated
on July 24th, 2010 when panic broke out in a narrow tunnel that served as the
only entrance and exit to the techno music event.

More than 650 people were also injured in the stampede that saw victims squashed against fences and walls.

The trial is one of the largest criminal cases Germany has ever seen, with the accused being represented by 32 lawyers while survivors and victims' relatives, acting as co-plaintiffs, have enlisted nearly 40 lawyers.

The scale of the trial and the huge public interest forced court officials
to move the proceedings to a convention hall in nearby Düsseldorf  that can seat 500 people.

The Love Parade started as an underground event in the former West Berlin in 1989 before moving to other German cities, at times drawing over a million revellers.

The 2010 tragedy led organisers to declare that the Love Parade would never be held again “out of respect for the victims”.

READ ALSO: Remembering the Love Parade victims


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