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Longest case in British legal history comes to end

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London: The two-year old inquest into the Hillsborough Soccer Stadium disaster has finally ended on Tuesday. 96 men,women and children had dead in the tragedy on April 15,1989, during the FA cup semis game. The inquest jury ruled that 96 victims were unlawfully killed and held Police responsible for the mishap and blamed delay in emergency response, failure in opening exit gates and over crowd.

David Duckenfield, South Yorkshire police chief superintendent had arrived at the converted courtroom in Warrington with traces of his former authority, but over seven airless, agonisingly tense days in the witness box last March, he was steadily worn down, surrendering slowly into a crumpled heap. From his concession that he had inadequate experience to oversee the safety of 54,000 people, to finally accepting responsibility for the deaths, Duckenfield’s admissions were shockingly complete. He also admitted at the inquests that even as the event was descending into horror and death, he had infamously lied, telling Graham Kelly, then secretary of the Football Association, that Liverpool fans were to blame, for gaining unauthorised entry through a large exit gate.

The chief constable, Peter Wright, had to state that evening that police had authorised the opening of the gate, but as these inquests, at two years the longest jury case in British history, heard in voluminous detail, Duckenfield’s lie endured. The evidence built into a startling indictment of South Yorkshire police, their chain of command and conduct – a relentlessly detailed evisceration of a British police force. The overwhelming evidence, shown in BBC colour footage of the horrific scene, contrary to the lurid, defamatory tales spun afterwards by the police, was of Liverpool supporters heroically helping.

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