Greek court charges 97 Croatians with murder, assault and possession of explosives

August 10 – Almost 100 Croatian fans have appeared in an Athens court to face criminal charges that include murder and membership of a criminal organisation over their alleged involvement in this week’s deadly violence that led to the postponement of the Champions League qualifier between AEK Athens and Dinamo Zagreb.

The handcuffed youths — many with their shirts pulled over their heads to hide their identity — appeared before an investigative magistrate on Wednesday, 24 hours after a 29-year-old Greek fan was stabbed to death.

Court officials said the magistrate issued the blanket charges against all 103 suspects, including 97 Croatian nationals.

The indictments also included charges of assault and illegal possession and use of explosive material. The murder-related charge is likely to be dropped for most of the defendants as the investigation proceeds.

Amateur video of the attack showed dozens of youths wielding bats and iron bars running past the stadium as flares and petrol bombs exploded. Ten people were injured and four remain hospitalised.

Greek Public Order Minister Yannis Oikonomou said the police made “tragic errors” in failing to stop the traveling Croatian supporters and failing to act on information that clashes were likely. The day before the killing, Montenegrin officials warned Greek police that 120 Croatian fans in 21 vehicles were heading for Athens through Albania.

Oikonomou dismissed calls from opposition parties to resign and instead suspended seven police officers, including several in senior positions. He said it was “inadmissible and unacceptable” that the convoy had been allowed to cross the country unchallenged.

Outside AEK’s training ground, fans set up tributes to the supporter who was killed – identified by family members as Michalis Katsouris from a town near Athens – leaving flowers and candles at the site where he died.

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