|Duisburg 2010: Photo by Arne Musler|
Ten people have been charged under German law with negligent manslaughter in relation to the to the fatal stampede that occurred at Germany's Love Parade festival in 2010 which left 21 people dead and over five hundred more injured.
The Festival, which began in 1989 as a Berlin-based event, began travelling to different German cities each year in 2007, was taking place in Duisburg in 2010. The free event was always well attended, and though turnouts had fallen in the few years prior to 2010, it was estimated by investigators that almost half a million people had attended that year on the site of a former freight rail yard. The site's capacity, however, was 250,000 and despite the large number of people attending, crowds entering were funnelled through a single underpass, which quickly became crowded on the Saturday morning of the event there was a surge in the crowd, which caused panic in the tunnel followed by a stampede. Six of the event's organisers and four city workers have been charged with negligent manslaughter and bodily harm. If convicted, they face up to five years in prison each. All deny any wrongdoing. The event was permanently cancelled by organisers after the tragedy. Six people had proceedings against them dropped after the investigation by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia for lack of evidence. The then mayor of Duisburg, Adolf Sauerland, was forced to step down after a 2012 city referendum, accused of having ignored warnings that the venue was too small. Organisers faced criticism at the time in media reports suggesting that officials and organisers did not heed warnings that there would be problems with such a massive crowd.
Duisburg prosecutor Horst Bien told reporters: "Something happened on 24 July 2010 that should never have happened. We weren't looking to see who was morally or politically responsible but instead focussed only on who was criminally liable". Bien said the entrance was not big enough to handle the numbers of those attending and said those charged should have known that. An interim police report listed a catalogue of crowd management and planning mistakes. The grounds opened nearly two hours later than promised, leading to an initial blockage in the tunnel, and there were no loudspeakers to control the crowd, the report said. "Mistakes in planning were the main reason for the disaster," Bien said adding thaT "an event where people wanted to party, dance and have fun, turned into a terrible tragedy" aND "The victims, their relatives and the bereaved are still suffering today because of the traumatic events."