16 dead in crush at Madagascar independence day rally

Madagascar’s Mahamasina Municipal Stadium holds around 22,000 people. (Getty Images)
Updated 26 June 2019
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16 dead in crush at Madagascar independence day rally

  • The accident occurred outside Mahamasina Stadium, where several thousand people had gathered for a concert following the traditional military parade held to mark National Day

ANTANANARIVO: At least 16 people were crushed to death and dozens injured in Madagascar on Wednesday at a stadium hosting national independence day celebrations in the capital Antananarivo.
The bodies of sixteen victims, including three children, were stored at the mortuary of HJRA hospital in the city, AFP journalists said.
Hospital director Oliva Alison Rakoto had earlier reported 15 dead and 80 wounded.
According to witnesses at the hospital, the accident occurred in the afternoon outside the Mahamasina stadium, where several thousand people had gathered for a concert following the traditional military parade held to mark the national holiday.
At the end of a military parade, security forces opened the gates to allow spectators to leave the enclosure, causing the crowd to mass outside the stadium, witnesses said.
The police then immediately closed the gates and blocked the crowd, witnesses said, causing a deadly pile up.
“When the organizers opened the gate, we were in the front row, in the queue,” said Jean Claude Etienne Rakotoarimanana, 29, who suffered bruises from the crush.
“Suddenly people ran to get in front of us. They shoved us, some even punched us and pulled us,” he added, saying he then fainted.
In September 2018, a deadly crush killed one person and injured 30 people in similar circumstances at the entrance of the same stadium during a football match between Madagascar and Senegal.


Turkey clears RSF representative of ‘terror propaganda’

Updated 21 min 2 sec ago
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Turkey clears RSF representative of ‘terror propaganda’

  • The three could have been jailed for 14 years
  • Guest editors took control over the paper to support Ozgur Gundem
ISTANBUL: The Turkey representative for Reporters Without Borders (RSF) was acquitted on Wednesday of the charge of making “terror propaganda” for Kurdish militants, in a case which triggered international alarm over press freedom in the country.
With dozens of journalists behind bars and on trial, activists claim the climate for the media has deteriorated under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Supporters erupted into applause after RSF representative Erol Onderoglu, rights activist Sebnem Korur Fincanci and journalist Ahmet Nesin were acquitted by an Istanbul court.
They were accused of making “terror propaganda” on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) after guest-editing the pro-Kurdish Turkish newspaper Ozgur Gundem, as well as “condoning crime” and “inciting crime.”
The three risked 14 years in jail in the trial which began in November 2016.
Ozgur Gundem had invited guest editors to take control of the paper in a campaign of solidarity as it faced pressure from the Turkish authorities.
The newspaper was raided and permanently shut down in August 2016, accused of links with the PKK which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.
The three campaigners were detained for a short period in 2016, and can now apply for financial compensation for time spent in jail.
The acquittals are in stark contrast with the harsh verdicts handed down by Turkish courts to critical journalists in recent years, the most controversial of which was the case against opposition daily Cumhuriyet whose former staff have been sentenced to jail.
“I warmly thank all those who supported us during the trial,” Onderoglu, who will return to Istanbul next week, said via text message.
But he added: “The fight continues for all our colleagues unjustly on trial or imprisoned.”
RSF said on Twitter it was “deeply relieved” by the acquittals but called for another trial due to begin against Onderoglu later this year to be scrapped.
Onderoglu faces the same accusation of making “terror propaganda” after supporting academics who signed a petition calling for peace and the end of security operations against militants in the Kurdish-majority southeast.
“Three years of absurd proceedings was already a form of unjust punishment. AND a new trial against Erol will start on 7 November. These charges must be dropped!” RSF said.
Only Fincanci attended the hearing while Onderoglu and Nesin were abroad.
Fincanci told AFP she was “very surprised” by the acquittal.