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Greece Orders Mass Detention of Croats Over Fan’s Killing

Greek authorities have remanded 105 defendants, mostly Croats, two Greeks and one Albanian, over the murder of a 29-year-old AEK fan last week in Athens. The interrogation of the 105 accused began on Friday and ended on Sunday.

The suspects are accused of a variety of crimes, including involvement in a criminal organisation, possession of explosives and weapons and involvement in violence. The mass detentions are based on their alleged involvement in a criminal organisation.

On the eve of the AEK Athens-Dinamo Zagreb match in the Greek capital on August 7, violent clashes broke out between the fans of the two teams that ended in the killing of AEK fan Michalis Katsouris with a knife.

Greek police were informed of the arrival and problematic profile of the Dinamo fans but seemingly failed to take preventive measures.

The defendants, according to Athens Macedonia News Agency, have denied any connection to the fatal incident.

A 40-year-old accused who is alleged to be the leader of the Croatian fan group “Bad Blue Boys”, has also denied his leadership role, claiming that he came to Athens from Vienna to applaud his team, and that AEK fans attacked them.

A group of parents and family members of arrested Dinamo fans addressed Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Sunday, asking to use his political influence to ensure their safety and a fair trial.

“Please use the political influence of your position so that they have a fair trial and treatment that protects their human rights,” reads the letter addressed to the Prime Minister.

They expressed fears that Dinamo fans will be transferred to 16 different prisons after the end of the hearing, where they may face retaliation from various fan groups.

“For the safety of our detained young men, it is necessary that they remain in prison together, isolated from other prisoners. Otherwise, it is almost certain that, in addition to the terrible and unnecessary loss of life of a young Greek, for which we express our deepest regret, there will be an even greater tragedy, revenge Greek fans and ultimately further escalation of the conflict,” they stated.

The parents noted a report of the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture, Inhuman Treatment and Punishment from 2022, which criticized overcrowding, corruption of guards, beatings and even murders of prisoners in Greek prisons.

“We are fully aware that our family members must answer for the acts they committed, but they mustn’t be treated as murderers, which, according to the facts known so far, they are not,” they said.

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic meanwhile said that the Dinamo fans’ detention contained an element of “revenge”.

“If the Greek authorities were able to detain all 100 through some kind of ‘artificial detention’, this would contain elements of revenge or attribution of collective responsibility. I expect that very soon, and that means within the five days stipulated by law, those responsible will be held accountable,” Milanovic said.

“Most [of the fans] must be released. If they detain them all, it’s de facto martial law; you can’t detain them all,” he added.

The Greek Association of Judges and Prosecutors condemned the intervention. “The statements of the President of Croatia constitute a direct intervention in the work of the justice of a member state of the European Union and are an insult to the institutions of our country,” it said.

Unitil now, the killer of Katsouris has not been identified.

Source : Balkan Insight