Croatian Soccer Fans Face Serious Charges After Deadly Fan Violence in Athens

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In an Athens court, almost 100 Croatian soccer fans, including 97 Croatian nationals, appeared to face charges relating to the deadly fan violence that occurred outside AEK Athens' stadium.

The charges include murder, membership in a criminal organization, assault, and illegal possession and use of explosive material. The suspects, with their identities concealed by pulling their shirts over their heads, stood before an investigative magistrate (Photo credit: AP).

Amateur footage of the incident showed a group of youths armed with bats and iron bars running past the stadium while flares and petrol bombs exploded. One Greek fan was stabbed to death, and ten others suffered injuries, with four remaining hospitalized.

Authorities have set up roadblocks and increased border checks to locate additional suspects. Six Croatian nationals were arrested while attempting to flee the country, with five detained in Igoumenitsa port and one on a bus bound for Albania.

Despite the tragedy, another Champions League qualifier between Panathinaikos and Marseille was scheduled to proceed with heightened security measures at Leoforos Stadium in Athens.

Margaritis Schinas, the vice president of the European Commission, condemned the violence and emphasized that it has no place in European football. He contacted UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin to discuss the incident.

Greek Public Order Minister Giannis Oikonomou admitted the police's errors in failing to prevent the clashes and act on available information. He suspended seven police officers, including those in senior positions, pending an investigation. Oikonomou rejected calls for his resignation.

Outside AEK's Opap Arena, fans paid tribute to the deceased supporter, Michalis Katsouris, by leaving flowers and candles at the site where he was fatally stabbed.

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Croatian Soccer Fans Face Serious Charges After Deadly Fan Violence in Athens 1

AEK has called on UEFA to impose severe punishment on Dinamo Zagreb and expressed disappointment that the qualifier will still take place in Zagreb. They questioned how AEK could play against a team associated with the brutal murder and whether any of the killers would be in the stands.

Both the Croatian government and Dinamo Zagreb condemned the attacks. Dinamo defended its actions, claiming full cooperation with authorities, and rejected AEK's request for expulsion from European competitions. The mayors of Athens and Zagreb, in a joint statement, appealed for calm and emphasized the importance of maintaining friendly ties between the cities, stating that such senseless violence has no place in their stadiums, cities, or societies.

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