German court allows trial over Love Parade disaster

The Love Parade disaster left 21 people dead

A German court ruled Monday that 10 people will face trial accused of negligently causing a catastrophic stampede at a 2010 "Love Parade" techno music festival that killed 21 people.

Overturning a year-old ruling, the court decided that four event organisers and six officials of the city of Duisburg will face charges including negligent manslaughter and causing bodily harm.

Prosecutors, victims' relatives and survivors have pointed to chaotic crowd management as the cause of the disaster in which revellers were crushed, trampled to death and suffocated.

More than 650 people were injured in the mass panic as pressure from a heaving sea of hundreds of thousands of young people squashed the victims against fences and walls.

A Duisburg court a year ago dismissed the criminal case, casting doubt on an expert report on the disaster, in a ruling that angered victims' groups.

But now, after an appeal, a higher panel in Duesseldorf overturned that ruling, saying there was a "sufficiently" high chance of convicting those responsible.

It said in a statement there was "cause to believe" that shortcomings in organisers' duty of care caused the deaths and injuries.

The court did not set a starting date for the trial.

Negligent manslaughter carries up to five years in prison.

Prosecutors blamed serious planning errors for the July 24, 2010 tragedy at the site, a former cargo rail depot in the western industrial city.

Eight men and 13 women were killed -- included seven foreigners, from Australia, China, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

The city mayor at the time, Adolf Sauerland, became the prime target of public anger, accused of having ignored warnings that the summer festival was a disaster waiting to happen, and was forced to resign by a 2012 city referendum.

The Love Parade started as an underground event in the former West Berlin in 1989 and was held there most years until 2006, at times drawing over one million people.

Following wrangling over permits and arguments over the mountains of trash left behind, the festival moved from Berlin to cities in western Germany's industrial Ruhr region until the tragedy of 2010.

The deadly disaster led organisers to declare that the Love Parade would never be held again "out of respect for the victims".