Madrid Arena Halloween tragedy sentencing due

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Almost two years on from the ‘Madrid Arena Halloween’ tragedy and the investigation is set to come to a close with the judge having concluded his investigations. The event which claimed the lives of five young women could see up to 16 people facing prison sentences. The disaster occurred as crowds of partygoers flooded into the arena and were caught up in a bottleneck in the corridors. Three of the five victims, Katia Esteban Casielles, Rocío Oña Pineda, and Cristina Arce de la Fuente – died on the night, while a fourth, Belén Langdon del Real, passed away in hospital several days later. María Teresa Alonso, aged 20 died nearly a month later.  All five women were aged between 17 and 20. Hundreds of young people were injured.

Initially 26 people were facing charges, but 10 had their charges dismissed, including the former councillor responsible for public safety at Madrid City Hall, Antonio de Guindos. His brother Luis is the central government’s minister for the treasury.

The Chief Inspector of Madrid Police, Emilio Monteguado is among those who will sit before the judge for sentencing. The main suspect, the party organiser Miguel Ángel Flores is looking at a long custodial sentence. Flores has already paid 100,000-euros bail in cash after the judge rejected his attempt to cover bail costs with the deeds of a property his family own in Castellón.

Inquiries using CCTV have discovered that the 10,600 capacity venue was filled to almost twice its capacity. Promoters of the event, headlined by Japanese-American DJ Steve Aoki sold more than double the number of tickets permitted for the venue’s maximum capacity. The town council allegedly failed to inform the Samur emergency services of the concert until a few hours before the opening and as a result Samur only sent a skeleton crew of emergency staff, notably a recently retired doctor and his unqualified son to cover the event. This claim was denied by the local authority.  

The inquiry discovered that emergency exits were sealed off, door security was insufficient, no ambulance was on stand-by, and parts of the car park had been set aside for botellones. Several attendees who were called to testify as witnesses, say they were squashed so tightly in the crush that they passed out unconscious whilst standing up, others were trapped between people with broken bones. Many of them fell to the floor and were trampled.

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