Kin of victims in fireworks crush sue city

Kyodo

Relatives of eight victims of a fatal crush on a pedestrian overpass last year in Akashi, Hyogo Prefecture, filed a suit at the district court here Wednesday, demanding some 850 million yen in damages from the city, the prefectural police and a private security company.

Eleven people, mostly children, died in the crush, and some 250 others were injured. The incident occurred on a pedestrian bridge near a train station as people were making their way back from a city-organized fireworks festival July 21, 2001.

The suit, filed with the Kobe District Court, contends that the accident occurred because the parties named failed to use proper crowd-control methods, lawyers for the plaintiffs said.

In particular, the suit focuses on the role played by police, who are legally responsible for crowd control, the lawyers said.

The relatives were quoted as saying they want the truth behind the incident brought to light, thereby preventing a recurrence of the tragedy.

In May, police sent the cases of 12 people from the police force, the city and Fukuoka-based security firm Nisikan Co., including the former head of the Akashi Police Station, to the Kobe District Public Prosecutor’s Office, alleging professional negligence resulting in death and injury.

Prosecutors are studying the cases to determine whether criminal charges should be brought.

But through the civil suit, the plaintiffs hope to link responsibility to the prefectural police force head and Akashi’s mayor. Neither has been accused of any criminal wrongdoing in the incident.