Football fan shot dead after racist mob attack

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The Independent Online

A French football fan was shot dead by a police officer after a mob of young white men, screaming anti-Semitic and racist insults, attacked a Hapoel Tel Aviv supporter outside the Parc des Princes in Paris late on Thursday night.

The plain clothes police officer, aged 32, was under arrest yesterday after shooting dead a 25-year-old man after a Uefa Cup game between Paris Saint Germain and Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Police and eye-witnesses said a mob of up to 300 white men chased a French Tel Aviv supporter after the game shouting "dirty Jew" and "fat Jew", making Nazi salutes and screaming "Le Pen president".

The black transport policeman, on duty to protect buses, intervened to rescue the Tel Aviv fan. The mob of Paris fans then turned on him, shouting "dirty black", "France for the French" and making monkey noises. After being knocked to the ground and beaten, the policeman drew his gun and fired, killing one man and seriously injuring another.

The Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, said yesterday that the incident was a "tragedy". "This was football, not war," he said. "It's unthinkable that a football match should end in this way. Twenty-five is not an age to die. You can't have the fans of one club running after another, shouting 'dirty Jew'."

Paris Saint Germain, who lost the match 4-2, have a record of racial violence among fans, including involvement in brawls between groups of supporters with white, north African, black or anti-racist allegiances. The mob who chased the Tel Aviv fan was said to be part of a white supremacist, skinhead group called the Boulogne Boys. There were calls yesterday for action to break up such groups of supporters. "The seriousness of this event confirms the absolute necessity of fighting racism and anti-Semitism among Paris Saint German fans," said the Mayor of the city, Bertrand Delanoe.

Police officers said that the policeman had stepped in front of the fleeing Tel Aviv fan and offered to protect him. He was not wearing a uniform or a police armband but he warned the mob that he was a police officer. He was insulted and knocked to the ground and drew a tear-gas canister first and then his gun and fired two shots. He will now be questioned by a police unit which investigates alleged police crimes and may face charges.

Police unions suggested yesterday that he was a hero, rather than a villain. "Should he have allowed himself to be lynched?" said Joaquin Masanet of the Unsa police union. "Let's not forget that he had the courage to come to the help of an Israeli fan."

The Tel Aviv fan, who later came forward to offer his evidence to police, was a Jewish French citizen. A journalist who witnessed the incident, Philippe Broussard of L'Express, said he heard the policeman shout to the Tel Aviv fan: "Stay behind me. Stay behind me."

* An opinion poll yesterday found that 17 per cent of French people were ready to vote for Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front in presidential elections next year.