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Top football official jailed for six months after stadium stampede


Latest update : 2009-07-24

Albert Anzouan Kacou, president of the Ivorian Football Federation (FIF) match organising committee, was sentenced to six months in prison on Friday for his part in a stadium stampede in Abidjan in March that killed 20 people.

AFP - A top Ivory Coast football administrator was sentenced Friday to six months in jail for his role in a stadium stampede during a World Cup qualifier that killed 20 people and injured more than 130.

Albert Anzouan Kacou, president of the Ivorian Football Federation (FIF) match organising committee, was also fined 500,000 CFA francs (750 euros) for manslaughter, causing involuntary injury and fraud.

Prosecutors had called for a one-year jail sentence.

Trial judge Clement Tobo Yapi also sentenced the man responsible for printing tickets for the match, Faustin Aka, to a similar jail sentence and fine for fraud.

The highest ranking official on trial, FIF's director general Ardjouma Kone, was acquitted along with chief accountant Andoh Beugre and three others.

Two other defendants working for companies contracted to the FIF received three month suspended sentences and the same fine of 750 euros for fraud.

The prosecution blamed a fraudulent system of "parallel ticketing" and a lack of coordination by officials responsible for security at the Houphouet-Boigny stadium for the March 29 disaster.

Three security officers, members of the Defence and Security Forces, also being prosecuted in the case are yet to stand trial, as the Supreme Court has to decide under which jurisdiction they will be judged.

In the March 29 World Cup qualifier against Malawi, fans desperate to see their European-based idols forced their way through the gates of the 35,000-capacity stadium and tumbled down the steps of the terracing to be crushed by those behind.

Many supporters had tickets and were angry at being refused entry, accusing the security forces of having taken bribes to let loads of ticketless people into the match.

President Laurent Gbagbo called the tragedy "an unprecedented drama in our history" and declared three days of national mourning.

The court verdicts follow two days after World football's governing body FIFA's decision to impose diciplinary measures on the African country's football federation.

FIFA's Disciplinary Committee said only 20,000 spectators could be allowed into the stadium for the Ivorians' next World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso in Abidjan on September 5, instead of the normal capacity crowd of 34,600.

It also fined the Ivorian Football Asssociation 50,000 Swiss francs (47,000 dollars, 33,000 euros).

Other retrictions including traffic and spectator control cordons away from the stadium itself were imposed to filter access.

FIFA said that it would also donate 100,000 Swiss francs, or around 66,000 euros, to support the families of victims of the stadium disaster.

Date created : 2009-07-24