LONDON – British prosecutors are set to announce whether they plan to press charges in the deaths of 96 people in the Hillsborough stadium crush — one of Britain’s worst-ever sports disasters.
The families of those killed in the April 1989 catastrophe were gathering in the northwestern English city of Warrington on Wednesday to be told about the decision.
The tragedy at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield unfolded when more than 2,000 Liverpool soccer fans flooded into a standing-room section behind a goal, with the 54,000-capacity stadium already nearly full for the match against Nottingham Forest. The victims were smashed against metal anti-riot fences or trampled underfoot. Many suffocated in the crush.
At the time, hooliganism was common, and there were immediate attempts to defend the police operation and assign blame to the Liverpool fans. A false narrative circulated that blamed ticketless and rowdy Liverpool fans — a narrative that their families have challenged for decades.
The original inquest recorded verdicts of accidental death. But the families challenged it and campaigned for a new inquiry. They succeeded in getting the verdicts overturned in 2012 after a far-reaching inquiry that examined previously secret documents and exposed wrongdoing and mistakes by police.
There are 23 suspects, including individuals and organizations, that could face charges.