Croatia arrests nine football fans sought by Greece over deadly violence

Football fans, most of them from Croatia, leave after being questioned by police in Greece over the stabbing of a Greek fan during violent clashes. PHOTO: AFP

ZAGREB - Croatian police have arrested nine suspected hardcore football fans sought by Greece over deadly violence in Athens ahead of a Champions League match last month, the justice ministry said on Saturday.

An AEK Athens fan died after being stabbed during clashes between supporters of Dinamo Zagreb and his club on the eve of their Champions League qualifier in the Greek capital in early August.

The death of 29-year-old Michalis Katsouris caused shock in Greece, and European football’s governing body Uefa condemned “the appalling incidents in the strongest possible terms”.

Greek prosecutors charged 105 people over the incidents and remanded them in custody.

They include 102 Croatians, suspected of being linked to Dinamo Zagreb ultra fans known as the Bad Blue Boys.

On Saturday, the Croatian justice ministry said police have informed it they were acting on 10 European arrest warrants issued by Greece.

The warrants were “related to (football) fan violence in August that the competent Greek bodies are still investigating”, it said in a statement.

Nine of the 10 people sought by Greece were arrested in the capital Zagreb – five on Friday and four on Saturday, local media reported.

Police, who did not immediately comment on the arrests, were still searching for the 10th supporter, local media reported.

In Greece, a series of incidents have erupted at football matches.

Last year, a teenager was fatally stabbed in a fight in Thessaloniki between supporters of the northern Greek city’s rival clubs, Aris Thessaloniki and PAOK.

The Greek government subsequently increased the maximum sentence for fan violence from six months to five years.

In July, seven defendants were found guilty of the teenager’s murder and handed life terms. Five others were jailed for complicity.

Zagreb has repeatedly said it wanted Athens to accelerate proceedings against Croatians held in Greece. AFP

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