The judge in charge of the investigation into the deaths of five youngsters at a Halloween party in Madrid in 2012 has named a total of 16 people as official suspects in the case, including the chief of the Madrid Municipal Police, Emilio Monteaguado. Monteaguado handed in his resignation after learning of the decision, City Hall sources told news agency Europa Press.
The organizer of the party at which the fatal crush occurred, Miguel Ángel Flores, is also one of those targeted in the writ by Judge Eduardo López Palop that concludes the investigation stage of the case.
The document names 14 people as official suspects for five offenses of reckless homicide, and 10 offenses of personal injury. The two doctors in charge of the medical crew at the event, Simón and Carlos Viñals, have also been named as official suspects, and are accused of three offenses of manslaughter as a result of serious professional misconduct, in the cases of three of the victims: Rocío Oña, Cristina Arce and Katia Esteban.
The judge agreed to a provisional stay of proceedings for the ex-head of Madrid City Hall’s environment, mobility and security department, Antonio de Guidos, and the rest of its security and emergency chiefs.
The two doctors in charge of the medical crew at the event have also been named as official suspects
The parties now have one month to present appeals and indictments ahead of trial.
Judge López Palop’s writ brings to a close an investigation that was opened in the early hours of November 1, 2012 after five girls, all aged between 17 and 20, were caught in a crush in one of the corridors of Madrid Arena. The venue was at least twice over capacity, with around 22,000 people estimated to have been in attendance at the dance-music event, which featured international DJs such as Steve Aoki.
Rocío Oña, Katia Esteban, Cristina Arce, Belén Langdon and María Teresa Alonso were all involved in the fatal crush at 3.33am during the event, despite at least five incidents beforehand of dangerous overcrowding in the venue.
The judge concluded that Flores, the head of Diviertt, the company that organized the event, had “direct participation in the number of tickets that were sold and the volume of people who entered the party, creating a situation of overcrowding that had decisive importance on the events that later occurred.”
Although the party had an authorized capacity of 10,620 people, around 23,000 tickets were sold. “There is an evident action of bad faith on the part of the official suspect,” the writ adds, as Flores also hid the boxes of sold tickets from the investigation with “premeditated and malicious intent.”
“The suspect is fully aware that there was immense overcrowding, that such overcrowding was the responsibility of himself, and of his excessive desire for economic profits, sacrificing safety,” the writ reads.
Judge López Palop also reproached the Municipal Police for not breaking up the mass gathering of youngsters who had assembled to drink outside the venue – an activity usually referred to in Spanish as botellón. The police, says the judge, “were at the site of the events in a manifestly insufficient and sporadic manner and showing a passivity that was totally inadequate for the seriousness of the events that were taking place.” Investigators believe that the failure of the 12 officers on duty to combat the illegal gathering of over 3,000 people outside had a crucial impact on the deaths; many of them invaded the arena en masse just before DJ Steve Aoki began his set.
The judge also questioned the training of the doctor in charge of the medical crew, 80-year-old Simón Viñals, asking whether someone of such an age was “in condition to be put in charge of the medical services of an event like the one we are analyzing.” The doctor agreed to carry out his role in a space that was not intended for use as a sick bay, had no ventilation, scarce and insufficient lighting and no running water, the writ said.
Among the others named in the case were two others from event organizer Diviertt, as well as chiefs at security company Seguriber and the now defunct municipal firm Madridec.