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French court sends two Brits to prison over Marseille football clashes

Valery Hache, AFP | Groups of supporters clash fight at the end of the Euro 2016 match between England and Russia in Marseille on June 11, 2016

A French court on Monday convicted two English football fans – including a 20-year-old cook – over their involvement in rioting in Marseille, sentencing them to prison.

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Alex Booth, who spent his 20th birthday in a French jail cell following his arrest, put his head in his hands as the judge passed sentence.

His father shouted "miscarriage" as his son was led from court and called the decision a "disgrace". He said French authorities were "making a scapegoat of a poor kid like Alex" and said they should "find the real thugs".

Booth had travelled from Huddersfield, England to Marseille with his father, although the pair did not have tickets to Euro 2016 matches, Reuters reported.

The 20-year-old was detained on Saturday in Marseille historic port, where he threw objects at police while insulting them.

He told judges on Monday he regretted his actions, but denied he had intentionally targeted officers.

“I am truly sorry. I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. I have nothing to do with hooligans,” he added.

Besides the two-month jail sentence, Booth was barred from returning to French territory for two years.

Ian Hepworth, a psychiatric nurse from Sheffield, was later sentenced to three months in prison in connection with the Marseille football clashes.

Hepworth, 41, was also barred from France for two years.

Booth and Hepworth where two of six British people charged with various offenses, following three days of violent scuffles with Russian hooligans in the Mediterranean port city.

Meanwhile, British football fans expressed anger over the fact that no Russian hooligans had been arrested by French authorities.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Roberts, who is a specialist in England football policing, said Russians wore mouth guards, and wielded brass knuckles and knives.

French federal prosecutor Brice Robin said Russian hooligans had “prepared for lightning-fast operations” and had averted detection by travelling to Marseille over land.

“I will not say they are violence professionals, but they were highly trained,” Robin said.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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