Updated: Sunday, 30 March 2014 12:00 | By Agence France-Presse

Families seek truth in new Hillsborough inquests

The families of 96 Liverpool supporters who died in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster will gather in a purpose-built court on Monday to hear fresh inquests into the deaths in Britain's worst sporting disaster.


Families seek truth in new Hillsborough inquests

Supporters hold scarves and shirts during a memorial service at Liverpool's Anfield ground on April 15, 2013 on the 24th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster - by Paul Ellis

The fans were caught up in a crush on a terrace during an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, northern England.

Some died on the pitch as fellow fans and police officers desperately tried to revive them, while other fans made makeshift stretchers out of advertising hoardings.

The new hearings into how the supporters died follow a two-decade campaign by their families to overturn what they saw as a concerted cover-up by the police and authorities.

In December 2012, the High Court in London quashed the original coroner's verdicts of accidental death and called for fresh inquests to be held.

That move followed the publication of a damning independent report that concluded that 41 of those who died would have had the "potential to survive" if they had received medical treatment more quickly.

Two new investigations were launched, one by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and one wider criminal inquiry.

The IPCC -- the police watchdog -- said Thursday it had interviewed 13 retired or serving police officers on suspicion of offences including manslaughter and perverting the course of justice.

On Friday, police said the two investigations were treating a total of 22 people as suspects -- not all of them police officers -- giving new hope to the families of the dead.

The probe has already unearthed evidence that South Yorkshire Police altered statements submitted by officers on the day of the disaster.

The inquests begin on Monday in a temporary courtroom complex on the outskirts of Warrington, east of Liverpool.

The relatives will not see the justice they crave done in the hearings. Inquests seek to examine the circumstances in which the deceased came by their deaths but do not apportion blame.

But the Liverpool supporters' families will hope the process can help them learn more both about how their loved ones died and the chaotic aftermath in the light of a huge amount of new evidence.

The inquests are expected to last at least nine months.

It was revealed at a pre-inquest hearing on Thursday that an hour of previously unseen television footage from the disaster had been unearthed by the BBC, which could form new evidence.

Pete Weatherby, an advocate representing 21 of the families, said: "There is at least an hour of it. It is within the stadium at relevant times."

The coroner, Lord Justice John Goldring, said the inquests would begin with "pen portraits" of each of the victims, which will last until mid-April.

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