Brits: Coverup in '89 soccer tragedy

Posted: September 13, 2012

BRITISH POLICE and medics whose failures contributed to the deaths of 96 soccer fans in the country's worst sports disaster unfairly blamed the dead for the 1989 tragedy and sought to cover up their actions, newly disclosed documents revealed Wednesday.

The documents vindicated efforts by the victims' families, who had spent 23 years demanding a full accounting of the events at Hillsborough stadium that killed fans of the Liverpool soccer team. Most of the victims were crushed and suffocated in a standing-only section after they were herded there by police.

Prime Minister David Cameron issued a full apology Wednesday for the wrongdoing of authorities and the subsequent coverup, saying that Britain had been shamed for more than 20 years by its reluctance to expose the errors that led to the deaths. A lawmakers in the House of Commons gasped and wept as he spoke.

Relatives of the dead had suffered the "failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth - and the injustice of the denigration of the deceased, that they were somehow at fault for their own deaths," Cameron said.

"I am profoundly sorry for this double injustice that has been left uncorrected for so long," he told lawmakers.

The tragedy took place during an FA Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989, at the stadium in Sheffield, northern England. A total of 94 supporters died that day - two more died later, one in 1993 - and almost 800 others were injured when police officers herded around 2,000 Liverpool fans into caged-in enclosures that were already full.

Following a lengthy campaign by victims' relatives to learn the full details of the disaster, a government-appointed panel reviewed and released 400,000 pages of previously undisclosed documents from police, the government and local authorities.

Bishop James Jones, who led the panel, said the documents offered clear evidence of failures by British authorities. He said they showed authorities' extensive attempts to shift blame for the tragedy onto fans and some proof that a number of Liverpool fans were denied medical treatment that could have saved their lives.

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Philly File * 

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