Loveparade procedure to be discontinued against money order

In the last few days there have been several press reports that the large criminal chamber of the Duisburg Regional Court is negotiating with the parties involved in the proceedings, i.e. in particular with the public prosecutors and the defence lawyers, to discontinue the so-called Loveparade proceedings against the payment of a monetary imposition in accordance with § 153a StPO – perhaps even without a monetary imposition in accordance with § 153 StPO.

loveparade criminal procedure

1. Criminal processing of a catastrophe

The Loveparade was a big public party with up to 1.5 million visitors in Germany. In the first years of its existence it took place in Berlin, later also in other cities. In 2010, a catastrophe occurred in Duisburg during the Love Parade. After a mass panic, 21 people died and 541 were seriously injured.

Since December 2017 several responsible persons of the city administration, the organizer and the police were investigated before the criminal court in Duisburg because of the suspicion of the negligent killing.

2. Legal guilt of the individual?

The core of the large-scale procedure was the question of whether a single person was legally guilty in the criminal sense of the word for the catastrophe. From the outset, the defence lawyers involved in the trial took the view that the individual defendants had at best made minor mistakes which were out of all proportion to the extent of the accident. In the course of the extensive trial, the court came to a similar conclusion.

3. There is not one culprit for every misfortune.

Sometimes it could simply be a devastating coincidence – or fate – that in sum causes terrible misfortune. Almost everyone has driven too fast on the motorway or failed to look in the mirror when overtaking. Many have already taken to the wheel with light alcoholisation or overtired. In most cases nothing happens with such “everyday sins”.

In the Loveparade trial it turned out that each of the defendants made similar mistakes. The planners overestimated the number of visitors. The city council ignored warnings that the escape routes might not be sufficient. The police acted unhappily during the incident and did not find a way to direct the streams of visitors into safe lanes. Nevertheless, it is accurate that a court feels neither legally able nor morally obliged to hold the individual defendants responsible for the entire accident in the criminal proceedings. The moral guilt rests on hundreds of shoulders.

4. Costs of the procedure with an attitude after § 153a StPO

At present, there are still disputes over the cost of the criminal proceedings. These are not only because of the criminal defense costs in the proceedings very high. If criminal proceedings are discontinued pursuant to § 153a StPO, the state usually bears the costs for the trial itself, i.e. in particular also for experts, the travel of witnesses, etc. As a rule, however, the accused must pay the costs of his own defence lawyer. Details as to who has to pay which costs in the proceedings at the end are not (yet) publicly known.