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French victim’s family seeks justice as hooligan trial begins

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2010-04-21

A group of Serbian men charged with killing French football fan Brice Taton in Serbia last September — an incident that has shaken both countries — appear in court Belgrade on Wednesday.

The trial against 14 Serbian football fans charged with killing French football fan Brice Taton in September 2009 begins on Wednesday in Belgrade, as the victim’s family seeks justice for what they decry as a premeditated crime.

The prosecutors will recount how Taton and 14 other French supporters who travelled to Serbia to watch a Europa League Cup match between clubs Partizan Belgrade and FC Toulouse were assaulted with bats and steel bars on September 17.

"Only the Serbian side represented today"

Taton succumbed to his injuries in a Belgrade hospital 12 days after the attack. Philippe Maury, one of the injured Frenchmen who will testify at the trial, told French television how his friends had been “savagely attacked in an act of war”.

He said the group had been caught completely off guard as it sat down at an outside café.

Calls for justice

The 14 Serbian men in court face 30 to 40 years in prison if found guilty, but two of the defendants have fled into hiding. A 15th person stands accused of aiding the men but has been released pending trial.

The young victim's family were planning to attend the start of the trial but were delayed because of the aviation disruption in Europe caused by volcanic ash from Iceland.

"We want justice,” Taton’s mother told news agency AFP. “It is a crime. The life of our son was stolen and our whole family was destroyed. For me it was a premeditated act, this confrontation was planned.”

But the absence of two suspected hooligans concerns the family’s French lawyer, Guy Debuisson.

“This may distort the record, these [defendants] will say it was the missing men who committed the fatal gesture,” he told AFP.

Date created : 2010-04-21

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