Reds fans 'unlawfully killed' at Hillsborough

The South Yorkshire Police, deemed responsible on Tuesday for the Hillsborough stadium disaster, accept an inquest's verdict that 96 people who died were 'unlawfully killed'.

LONDON • The 96 Liverpool fans who died in Britain's 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster were unlawfully killed, a jury found yesterday following the longest-running inquest in English legal history.

After hearing more than two years of evidence, the jury also concluded that the behaviour of Reds supporters on the day did not cause or contribute to Britain's worst sports stadium tragedy.

It also found that there were errors in police planning for the match and on the day of the match, which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation.

Relatives of the victims have fought a long campaign to get to the heart of what happened during the disaster.

They emerged from the courtroom hugging and in tears, holding pictures of their loved ones and a scarf reading "Justice".

They linked hands above their heads and sang the Liverpool club anthem You'll Never Walk Alone.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter: "Landmark day as the Hillsborough inquest provides long overdue justice for the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the tragic disaster."

The Crown Prosecution Service, England's state prosecutors, said it would consider whether to bring criminal charges.

The jury has been sitting since March 2014 in a purpose-built courtroom in Warrington, north-west of England, 25 kilometres outside Liverpool.

The disaster occurred on April 15, 1989, during the Liverpool-Nottingham Forest FA Cup semi-final at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium.

Seeking to alleviate a crush that had developed outside the ground shortly before kick-off, the police match commander opened an exit gate. It enabled 2,000 fans to stream into the ground and they piled into the already over-full pens behind the goal at that end of the ground, causing a fatal crush.

Under English law, an inquest exists solely to determine how the deceased came by their death.

It does not impose criminal sentences. However, an inquest verdict can act as a springboard for other court proceedings.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2016, with the headline 'Reds fans 'unlawfully killed' at Hillsborough'. Print Edition | Subscribe