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British courts open new probes of Hillsborough Stadium soccer tragedy

British courts open new probes of Hillsborough Stadium soccer tragedy
Police, stewards and others tend to injured soccer fans on the field at Hillsborough Stadium. (Associated Press)

Many Liverpool soccer fans have for years believed that British police officers, not fans, were responsible for the 1989 Hillsborough Stadium disaster in which 96 people died.

Twenty-five years later, new investigations have begun to determine the level of police responsibility.

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Jury selection began Monday in Warrington, near Liverpool, in connection with a new inquest into the incident, the worst sports-related disaster in British history. With a mountain of evidence for the probe to wade through, it could be more than a year before a decision is announced.

After years of public campaigning for a new investigation, the High Court in London last year threw out the original death verdicts in the case after secret documents exposed a coverup by police.

A separate investigation is already underway to determine whether senior police officers may be subject to charges of manslaughter or criminal negligence.

Victims, who were attending an FA Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, were mostly crushed to death because of overcrowding in an area of the stadium. Nearly 800 others were injured.

The government's Hillsborough Independent Panel report, published in September 2012, absolved Liverpool fans of any responsibility in the incident, found that the police were at fault and determined that as many as 41 victims could have been saved had the emergency response been better.

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