Criminal conduct investigated for stampede in El Salvador

A special team of Salvadoran prosecutors is leading the investigation to establish criminal responsibility in the stampede of fans at the Cuscatlán stadium during a soccer match that left 12 dead and dozens injured, authorities announced Monday.

The tragedy occurred on Saturday night, a few minutes after the start the return match between Alianza and FAS for the quarterfinals of the Salvadoran league.

According to authorities and witness statements, hundreds of fans were enraged when he was not allowed into the stadium despite having the tickets in their hands. People began pushing until they knocked down a gate, causing the stampede.

Attorney General Rodolfo Delgado said on a local television talk show that “the criminal behaviors that we are investigating are homicides, determining what degree of guilt may exist and what degree of intentionality could be attributed, as well as the issue of injuries to these people”.

Delgado added that “we are interviewing everyone involved in the security aspects of the event and determining the number of people who should enter” the game.

Mauricio Arriaza Chicas, general director of the National Civil Police, pointed out that the investigations include the leadership of the teams involved in the match, the owners of the stadium, the organized bars and the presumed overbooking of the ticket office. The general sector, where the stampede took place, was designated exclusively for Alianza fans.

“We are investigating why only one gate was opened in the southern zone, we are also investigating the sale of false tickets,” he said.

It transpired that, on the same night of the tragedy, the Prosecutor’s Office summoned several workers and leaders of Alianza, which was the administrator of the stadium due to its local status, to interviews.

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At the same time, relatives mourned their dead and prepared their funerals.

Family and friends accompanied Patricia Hernández, at the wake for her husband, Fernando Chávez, 47, one of the 12 victims in the attack by fans.

Both were fans of Alianza, one of the most popular teams in Salvadoran soccer. Next to the coffin, you could see photographs of the victim and the couple proudly wearing the team jacket.

Patricia told reporters how she tried to save her husband: “He fell and couldn’t get up anymore, I came back and pulled him, I wasn’t going to let him down, I knelt down and told him: ‘Get up, please get up’, ‘I can’t, I can’t’, he told me. That was the last I heard from him and already in his eyes you could see the agony, then he no longer got up and the people who were coming behind the gate fell on him ”.

“We did not imagine that on a night when we thought we were going to enjoy ourselves, going to cheer on the team we love would turn into a tragedy, where I would be left a widow,” added the woman.

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