The judge investigating the 2012 Halloween night tragedy at the Madrid Arena venue - in which five young women died after they were crushed in a massive human stampede - has called the concert promoter, who has been charged in the case, to an urgent hearing after new evidence surfaced that could put him in jail until his trial, judicial sources said Tuesday.
Miguel Ángel Flores, the organizer of the Halloween party who is facing manslaughter charges, has been free since December after posting a 200,000-euro bail and turning over his passport.
But lawyers for the five victims have given Judge Eduardo López Palop a video that was first released by the El Mundo newspaper that reportedly shows Flores opening the doors of the already crowded venue, which is situated within the Casa de Campo park, to allow more people to flock inside.
The lawyers have also asked Judge López to listen to recordings released by EL PAÍS of a conversation between the police chief on duty at the time, Cándida Jiménez, and the operator at the emergency switchboard that demonstrate the delays and confusion that reigned before authorities finally arrived on the scene.
The new evidence can be considered a mitigating factor to the charges Flores is already facing that could land him in preventive custody, the lawyers said.
Greed "an issue"
According to the complaint, Flores was motivated by greed and allowed more paying customers inside the overcrowded arena, but didn't have enough security personnel on hand.
Until now, Judge López, with the advice of the local prosecutor, has refused the lawyers' demands to hold Flores until his trial because the evidence given to the court has not demonstrated that the concert promoter was directly responsible for the tragedy. In his statement last year before the court, Flores blamed the security personnel for not controlling the situation.
More than 17,000 people showed up that night for the so-called Thriller Music Party at the Madrid Arena venue - which was filled to three times its official capacity. Flores also acknowledged that a further 3,000 people were congregated outside the venue, holding a late-night drinking session.
According to judicial sources, the new evidence, including the video and audio recordings, is strong enough for the judge to rule in favor of the lawyers' petition. The tragedy has also claimed the jobs of several Madrid government officials, including Deputy Mayor Miguel Ángel Villanueva, a personal friend of Flores, who was removed by Mayor Ana Botella during a Cabinet reshuffle in January.