British prosecutors have charged six people over the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster in Sheffield, in which 96 soccer fans were crushed to death.

Those charged include the police commander on the day, David Duckenfield, who is accused of gross negligence manslaughter.

The former chief of South Yorkshire Police, Norman Bettision, is charged with misconduct in public office for lying about the disaster and its aftermath.

The lawyer for the South Yorkshire police was charged with acting “with intent to pervert the course of public justice” relating to changes in witness statements during an inquiry into the tragedy. 

“Criminal proceedings have now commenced and the defendants have a right to a fair trial,” said Sue Hemming, head prosecutor for special crime and counter terror. 

The tragedy at Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield unfolded when more than 2,000 Liverpool soccer fans flooded into a standing-room section behind a goal, with the 54,000-capacity stadium already nearly full for the match against Nottingham Forest.

People were smashed against metal anti-riot fences or trampled under foot. Many suffocated in the crush.

“All we want is accountability, nothing more and nothing less,” said Margaret Aspinall, whose son James, 18, was among those who died.

At the time, hooliganism was common, and there were immediate attempts to defend the police operation and assign blame to the Liverpool fans. A false narrative circulated that blamed rowdy Liverpool fans without tickets — a narrative that their families have challenged for decades.

The original inquest recorded verdicts of accidental death. But the families challenged it and campaigned for a new inquiry. They succeeded in getting the verdicts overturned in 2012 after a far-reaching inquiry that examined previously secret documents and exposed wrongdoing and mistakes by police.

Twenty-three suspects, including individuals and organizations, could face charges.

The Hillsborough disaster prompted a sweeping modernization of stadiums across England. Top division stadiums were largely transformed into safer, all-seat venues, with fences around fields torn down.

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