Chelsea fan 'blames victim’ at Paris metro racism trial
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A former Northern Ireland policeman and Chelsea supporter has admitted pushing a black man off a Paris metro, but told a court in London that the alleged victim started the altercation.
Richard Barklie, 50, is one of four Chelsea fans facing a football banning order over the alleged racist incident on the Paris metro as the group headed to a Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain in February.
In a widely circulated video of the incident, Souleymane Sylla is seen being violently pushed off the train as Chelsea fans on the train chanted: “We’re racist and that’s the way we like it.”
Barklie, from Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland, denies any wrongdoing.
He told Stratford Magistrates Court that he shoved Suleymane off the train not because of his colour but because there was no room in the carriage.
"Mr Sylla, and it's my view, was the only one using aggression… I did push him, I put my hand out to stop him getting into this space,” Barklie said, adding that, in accordance with his public order training as a police officer, he had put his hand up to protect himself.
Barklie, who has worked as a director with the World Human Rights Forum, also denied joining in the racist singing or chanting which can be heard on the video.
The three other accused - Jordan Munday, 20, Josh Parsons, 20 and William Simpson, 26 - also face a banning order from attending football matches.
A fifth man, Dean Callis, 32, earlier received a five-year banning order for his role in the Paris incident and for other incidents involving violence.
On Thursday, the court was read a written statement from Sylla, who said: "When I approached them to enter the coach, one of them pushed me away violently to put me back on to the platform."
At the time of the incident, Sylla, a French sales manager, told reporters: “I don’t speak a word of English ... but it was clear to me they (Chelsea football fans) were picking on me because of the colour of my skin.”
Paul Nolan, who made the widely viewed film of the incident at the Richelieu-Drouot metro station in the French capital, told FRANCE 24 he believed it was important that as wide an audience as possible saw his video.
“The man pushed off the metro is a victim and the Chelsea fans think they can get away with it,” he said. “I think people should know about it and there should be consequences.”
The trial is ongoing and a verdict is expected on Wednesday.