German evangelists go on trial for 2018 Valencia metro stampede

German evangelists go on trial for 2018 Valencia metro stampede
Security footage shows passengers on the Valencia metro struggling to get out of the carriage once the train stopped.
Seven German nationals went on trial in Spain Monday on charges of provoking a stampede while trying to preach to a packed metro carriage in the eastern city of Valencia.

The incident occurred in 2018 and the seven, all men aged between 19 and 42, are facing charges of public disorder and causing injury with several people hurt as panicked passengers pushed to get off the train.

According to court documents, the incident took place at around 11:00 pm on August 4, 2018, when the defendants entered a carriage of the Valencia metro carrying a large red cross, suitcases and a shopping trolley, one of whom was wearing a waistcoat emblazoned with Arabic writing.

“The metro was full of passengers… and the defendants began to shout through a megaphone saying things like: ‘We have a message for you. This metro is full of sin, of drugs, of fornication’,” court documents show.

Footage of the incident show a man speaking in German whose words are then translated into Spanish and relayed over a megaphone, followed by screams and signs of panic.

“Don’t be afraid, all you have to be afraid of is sin,” the speaker says.

Prosecutors are seeking a four-year prison term for each of the defendants, saying they were aware of the consequences of their actions which caused panic and provoked a stampede in which several people were injured.

One was a 25-year-old woman who suffered various injuries to her feet that took more than eight months to heal.

Testifying in court, the young woman and several other witnesses said the passengers had thought the group were about to stage an attack and had panicked, the Las Provincias newspaper reported.

But the defendants entered a plea of not guilty, insisting they were not responsible for the stampede, the paper said.

Their lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

The case continues on Tuesday.

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