Title: Croatian Soccer Fans Face Murder Charges Following Violent Clash in Athens
Nearly 100 Croatian soccer fans were brought before an Athens court on Monday to face criminal charges, including murder and membership of a criminal organization. The charges stem from their alleged involvement in a deadly fan violence incident that took place outside AEK Athens’ stadium, leading to the cancellation of a Champions League qualifier against Dinamo Zagreb.
In a packed courtroom, the suspects, many concealing their identities with their shirts pulled over their heads, stood before an investigative magistrate. The magistrate issued blanket charges against all 103 suspects, 97 of whom are Croatian nationals. The charges also include assault and illegal possession and use of explosive material.
The violence, captured in amateur video footage, showed dozens of youths armed with bats and iron bars running past the stadium as flares and petrol bombs exploded. As a result, ten people were injured, four of whom remain hospitalized.
Following the incident, Greek authorities launched a search for additional suspects, establishing highway roadblocks and border checks. Six Croatian nationals were arrested while attempting to flee the country.
Amidst heightened security measures, another Champions League qualifier between Panathinaikos and Marseille was held in Athens without any reported violence. Greek politician Margaritis Schinas, vice president of the European Commission, condemned the acts of violence and reached out to UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin to discuss the incident.
In a surprising move, Greek Public Order Minister Giannis Oikonomou admitted that the police had made “tragic errors” and subsequently suspended seven officers pending an investigation.
AEK Athens has called on UEFA to impose severe punishment on Dinamo Zagreb, raising questions about the decision to proceed with the qualifier against them. In response, the Croatian government and Dinamo Zagreb have condemned the violence while asserting their full cooperation with authorities.
The mayors of Athens and Zagreb issued a joint statement denouncing the violence and affirming that such behavior has no place in their cities or societies. They called for calm and unity in the wake of the incident.
As the court case unfolds and investigations continue, the eyes of both the soccer world and legal authorities remain fixed on Croatia, waiting to see how justice will be served in the aftermath of this shocking incident.
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