Seventy arrested hooligans, most of them Croatian nationals and fans of Dinamo Zagreb, were remanded in custody after appearing before Athens prosecutors on Friday and Saturday. They are being held for their alleged involvement in the violence which resulted in the murder of Greek AEK football fan Michalis Katsouris on Monday.
The third and last group from a total of 105 defendants will appear before prosecutors on Sunday.
In controversial statements made on Saturday evening, Croatia’s President Zoran Milanovic opined that if Greece would remand all the Croatian defendants in custody, that would look like a vendetta or attribution of collective liability.
“Regardless of why they [Croatian defendants] went to Athens, which is to start episodes, and that I cannot support, this is just strange behavior,” Milanovic said.
Croatian President’s comments on defendants’ judicial treatment
Milanovic also told reporters that the Croatian defendants “have citizen rights and the circumstances under which a life was lost are still unspecified, [as] they are unknown.”
However, the Croatian President clarified that an open letter penned by the parents of the defendants, in which they pled for government intervention to guarantee a fair trial for their children in Greece, should be left out of the debate.
“[The defendants] are adults, [and] they were not sent there by their parents,” he insisted. “They went by themselves, and some of them will be held accountable for this – but not all one hundred of them.”
Meanwhile, the brother of the murdered AEK football fan who bled to death after being stabbed in front of the Greek team’s stadium, appeared in court accompanied by his lawyers and submitted a request for specific investigations to help catch his brother’s killer.
97 Croatian hooligans facing gang-related charges in Athens
The violence and subsequent murder occurred on Monday night outside of the AEK stadium a day before the UEFA Champions League qualifier between AEK Athens and GNK Dinamo Zagreb.
The murdered victim appears to have been hit while he and dozens of other AEK fans were being chased by Dinamo Zagreb hooligans.
The charges encompassed offenses such as assault, unlawful possession, and use of explosive substances. As the investigation progresses, the murder-related charges are expected to be dismissed for a majority of the accused.
Amateur footage of the incident revealed numerous young people carrying bats and metal bars, running near the stadium while flames and Molotov cocktails ignited. The attack resulted in ten injuries, with four individuals still being treated in the hospital.
As investigations continue, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has not made any comment on the incident by Saturday night, is expected to meet UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin next Wednesday, August 16th at the Maximos Mansion in Athens to discuss “all that is happening in European football.”