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Coronavirus forces end of Love Parade inquiry

A regional court in Germany has ordered a definitive end to the trial of the organisers of the 2010 Love Parade festival.

The current trial began in December 2017 after previous legal proceedings cleared the defendants – four employees of festival promoter Lopavent and six of the city of Duisburg, in North Rhine-Westphalia – of any wrongdoing.

While prosecutors said at the start of the trial they were confident of securing prosecutions, the impact of the coronavirus means that reaching a verdict before the ten-year statute of limitations expires in July would be impossible, Duisburg regional court ruled. The trial lasted 184 days, according to Deutsche Welle.

Twenty-one people died, and more than 650 were injured, on 24 July 2010 in a crush in a tunnel that served as the sole entrance to the long-running techno festival. Over a million people are said to have attended the 2010 event, which was held at a former goods yard in Duisburg with a capacity of around 250,000.

The victims included festivalgoers from Spain, Australia, Italy, Bosnia-Herzegovina, China and the Netherlands.

 


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Italian biz “speechless” after Lanterna Azzurra tragedy

Italy’s live music business is in mourning after six people, five of them teenagers, lost their lives in a stampede at packed nightclub in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Up to 120 people were injured after one concertgoer – reportedly a 17-year-old male, since apprehended and now in police custody – released a pepper spray-like “stinging” substance in the Lanterna Azzurra (Blue Lantern) venue in Corinaldo, in the province of Ancona, at around midnight GMT (1am local time) on 8 December, according to local media.

The incident occurred before a planned concert by Sfera Ebbasta, an Italian rapper popular with teenages, and coincided with the start of Roman Catholic holiday the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Five of the dead – three boys and two girls – were aged between 14 and 16, while the fifth was a 39-year-old woman who had taken her daughter to the show, according to police.

“We were dancing when we were struck by a pungent odour that burned our eyes,” one teenage attendee told Sky Italy.

“We were dancing when we were struck by a pungent odour that burned our eyes”

Writing on social media, Ebbasta said he “[doesn’t] want to pass judgment on those responsible”, but added: “I’d like everybody to pause and think about how dangerous and stupid it can be to use pepper spray in a discotheque.” He also offered his “love and support” to victims’ families.

Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini has suggested there could have been “more people inside [the club] than was permissible”, and Ancona chief prosecutor Monica Garulli told reporters at the scene that about 1,400 tickets had been sold for the show, against a capacity of 870. Ancona’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, who visited the scene of the tragedy, later said that while Lanterna Azzurra had three rooms, it chose to only use one, which has a capacity of 469.

However, Marco Cecchini, one of the three managers of the venue, disputes the authorities’ version of events. Speaking to QN, he says: “There were not 1,400 people, as everyone is saying. Absolutely. In my opinion, there were no more than a thousand – even taking into account those who were outside smoking, inside there were little more than 800. It is a club that has contained a lot more people.”

In a statement, Italian concert promoters’ association Assomusica says the deaths have left the country “speechless”.

“[How can it be] possible for a moment of joy and socialising to turn into sadness and the loss of young lives?” asked the association. “Assomusica and all its members share the pain […] of the families involved in this tragedy.”

“How is it possible that a moment of joy and socialising could turn into sadness and the loss of young lives?”

It adds that it invites “all our members and artists, from today, to pause for a moment of reflection at the beginning of each show” to remember the victims.

Federico Rasetti, director of venues association KeepOn Live, says it is important what happened in Corinaldo, at an allegedly overcrowded show, is not conflated with the country’s live music scene as a whole, which is professional and organised.

“This entire sector, again, is likely to be misunderstood,” says Rasetti. “Live club shows and festivals are generally well organised, and specialised in producing events […], and just as often these tragedies occur in places where there is no live music.”

He further notes that Lanterna Azzurra is not a dedicated music venue, adding: “We need clarity, to ensure that public opinion and politics do not confuse a live music venue with a pub or a disco.”

Investigations into the tragedy are still ongoing. At press time, two more men had been arrested in connection with the stampede, and police are considering the possibility that the substance was sprayed as cover for robbing club-goers.

 


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‘No evidence’ of failings in Falls crush, finds Vic govt

WorkSafe Victoria, an agency of the state government of Victoria, Australia, has dropped its investigation into the organisers of Falls Festival, finding there is “insufficient evidence” to pursue a prosecution over the crowd crush last December.

The incident, which left 76 people injured (initially reported as 80), 19 of them seriously, occurred after a performance by DMA’s on Friday 30 December when large crowds attempted to exit the Grand Theatre in Lorne through a small exit, recently narrowed further by the construction of a new bar.

In an interview with The Guardian in January, victim Tim Hunt described the stampede as being “like a riptide”, speaking of his horror at people’s screams and “bones snapping from [the] pressure”. Festival co-producer Jessica Ducrou said the festival was “completely devastated” by the incident and promised to launched its own investigation into the causes.

In addition to a private class-action lawsuit on behalf of injured festivalgoers, organiser Ash Sounds – a division of promoter Secret Sounds – faced an inquiry by WorkSafe Victoria, which was investigating possible offences under the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act.

“All the conditions … such as crowd control, crowd size, and positioning and size of exits, had been met

Announcing the results of the investigation yesterday, WorkSafe says it has determined there is “insufficient evidence” to pursue a prosecution, finding that “all the conditions imposed by various bodies in relation to the event, such as crowd control, crowd size, and positioning and size of exits, had been met” by Ash Sounds.

WorkSafe visited the festival site shortly after the incident and requested changes to its lay-out to prevent future crowd surges, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

“As a result, WorkSafe found there was insufficient evidence to establish any offence under the 2004 OHS Act and no further action will be taken,” concludes WorkSafe’s statement.

The class-action suit, meanwhile, which seeks unspecified damages from Secret Sounds, is still ongoing.

Live Nation acquired a 51% stake in Secret Sounds last December.

 


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