HALLOWEEN TRAGEDY

Madrid Arena tragedy judge decries lack of means to hear case

Magistrate complains that he has no secretary and 12 other cases backed up

The judge investigating the Madrid Arena case, Eduardo López Palop, surprised reporters at the Examining Magistrate’s Court handling the caseload on Tuesday when he complained about the lack of means at his disposal to carry out his duties.

López’s workload is such that he has to postpone 12 summonses in other cases that he has open in order to attend to the case brought of the five girls who lost their lives in a human stampede at a Halloween party at Madrid Arena. The reporters waiting in the corridor of the court for an official suspect’s testimony to end overheard the judge speaking to two of the lawyers representing two of the victims’ families.

“Do you think it is possible to work like this? In a case with five deaths I don’t even have a secretary – she’s off sick.”

The comments were made during a recess in the testimony of Ricardo Pastor, the security chief for the public company Madrid Congresos y Espacios, which manages Madrid Arena.

The lawyers, Abdon Núñez and Gerardo Vilada, representing the families of Belén Langdon and Katia Esteban, agreed that López needs more staff. At 2pm, the stand-in secretary had to leave and a third replacement was drafted in to the courtroom. “This is a disgrace!” Núñez said.

On January 14, the government chamber of the Madrid regional High Court agreed to ask the General Council of the Judiciary to provide a judge to relieve López of other cases so he can concentrate on the Madrid Arena investigation. Currently, a supply judge has been provided only to help out with the Madrid Arena case for the next six months.

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