German prosecutors charge 10 organizers for Love Parade deaths

BERLIN Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:16am EST

People stand in front of memorial to victims who were crushed during a stampede at the Love Parade in Duisburg, July21, 2011. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

People stand in front of memorial to victims who were crushed during a stampede at the Love Parade in Duisburg, July21, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Ina Fassbender

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BERLIN (Reuters) - German prosecutors charged 10 organizers with negligent manslaughter and bodily harm on Wednesday over the 21 people killed and 500 injured in a stampede at a 2010 techno music festival in Duisburg.

Six private event organizers and four city workers face five years in jail if convicted for the deaths and injuries at the popular annual Love Parade festival, where mass panic broke out because the only entrance gate was too small for the huge crowd.

The 10 people charged have denied wrongdoing in the July 24, 2010 disaster, Duisburg prosecutor Horst Bien told journalists.

"Something happened on July 24, 2010 that should never have happened," Bien said. "We weren't looking to see who was morally or politically responsible but instead focused only on who was criminally liable."

Eight foreigners - from Spain, Bosnia, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy and China - were among those killed when young people pushed through an underpass into the festival grounds at a former freight rail yard.

State prosecutors investigated why an event set up for 250,000 people ended up with nearly 500,000 attending. Bien said the entrance was not big enough to handle the numbers of those attending and said those charged should have known that.

"Mistakes in planning were the main reason for the disaster," Bien said.

Accustomed to a high degree of efficiency and organization at such events, Germans were dumbfounded by the chaos and by media reports that officials and organizers did not heed warnings that there would be problems with such a massive crowd.

(Reporting By Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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