El Salvador soccer executives dodge prison with payment to stampede victims’ families
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — Five soccer club executives and stadium officials arrested for their alleged roles in the stampede at an El Salvador league game that left nine fans dead and dozens injured will avoid prison by making payments to the injured and relatives of the dead.
A court on Friday ended the criminal process against three executives from the Alianza soccer club and two high-level officials from the Cuscatlan stadium where the May 20 quarterfinals match between clubs Alianza and Fas was played.
Play was suspended about 16 minutes into the match, when fans in the stands waving frantically got the attention of those on the field. People carried the injured out of a tunnel and down to the pitch. Local television transmitted live images of the aftermath of the stampede by Alianza fans. Dozens made it onto the field where they received medical treatment.
Miguel Anaya, one of the defense attorneys, told reporters that families of the victims will receive $5,000 to $10,000 each, while the injured will receive $30 per day they remain incapacitated. Friday was the initial court hearing for the accused.
Prosecutors had originally brought manslaughter and other charges against the club executives and stadium personnel for negligence in organizing the match. Investigators believe the match was oversold and then the gates closed while many ticketholders remained outside.
Frustrated fans pushed down an entrance gate and rushed into the stadium, smothering some and trampling others.
For days, authorities maintained a death toll of 12 before revising it downward this week to nine, saying there was confusion caused by the number of people taken to hospitals.