Saturday 25 February 2017

Russian thugs 'were trained for violence'

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

French prosecutor of Marseille Brice Robin speaks during a news conference following the fan violence in Marseille. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
French prosecutor of Marseille Brice Robin speaks during a news conference following the fan violence in Marseille. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Russians trained to fight were involved in the worst of the fan violence that hit Marseille at the start of the tournament, the French city's chief prosecutor has said.

A middle-aged Englishman remains in a critical condition in hospital after being assaulted, one of 35 people to be injured during three days of fighting involving Russian, English and French fans in Marseille's Vieux Port.

European soccer's governing body, UEFA, has said that it is "disgusted" by the melees both inside and outside the stadium in Marseille and has threatened to expel the Russian and English teams from the championship if there is any repeat of the violence.

"There were 150 Russian supporters who in reality were hooligans," Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin told a news conference.

"These people were well prepared for ultra-rapid and ultra-violent action."

There have been scenes of rival fans wielding metal bars and hurling beer bottles in street clashes in Marseille, as well as in Nice, Lille and Paris.

Read more: Euro 2016: '150 hyper-violent' Russian Ultras escaped police and are preparing to ambush England again

Yesterday, Marseille court began hearing fast-track trials of 10 people held in police custody - six Britons, three French nationals and an Austrian. All were charged with violence involving a weapon.

Five English fans were jailed in connection with the disturbances over the weekend.

The French government has warned the violent disorder is distracting police from the fight against terrorism. French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve asked for restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol in Euro 2016's host cities. Mr Cazeneuve said the hooligans "distract the police from their primary mission - to protect our country from the terrorist threat".

Irish Independent

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