Toulouse call for justice after fan dies

Club seeks conviction of Partizan thugs who attacked French supporter in Belgrade
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The Independent Football

Toulouse have called for "severe punishment" after one of their supporters died yesterday, two weeks after he was injured in violent clashes with Partizan Belgrade fans.

Brice Taton had been in critical condition in hospital in Belgrade after he was injured, along with another French fan and a Serbian, shortly before the Europa League match on 17 September. A statement read: "TFC are in mourning following the announcement of the tragic death of Brice Taton, victim of unspeakable violence. Our thoughts go first to his parents in Belgrade, his family, his friends, his Forza Viola partners and all the family that are the supporters of Toulouse Football Club.

"It is a time for contemplation. But the time will come when this outburst of violence on the outskirts of sport has to be severely punished. Toulouse Football Club will see to it that justice will be done, and will be an unfailing support to Brice's family."

Secretary of state for sports Rama Yade also assured the family that the French government will do everything in their power to ensure that those responsible are punished. "We will fight against the criminals in sport," she said. "I call for the strongest severity against those responsible for this murder and draw on the efforts of the Serbian authorities not to leave this crime unpunished."

Since the incident 10 people have been arrested and currently face the possibility of 30-40 years apiece in prison. The assailants of Taton will be tried for first-degree murder as Serbia cracks down on rising street violence, the state prosecutor said.

"This is no longer attempted murder, it is first-degree murder and the penalty for this crime is up to 40 years in prison," said public prosecutor Slobodan Radovanovic.

"Soccer violence is not the work of just die-hard fans, it involves members of organised crime groups and we have to work with the other state institutions to gather evidence in order to ban their activities."

Radovanovic said he had asked the Interior Ministry to gather evidence of links between hooligans and organised crime. Police have arrested 11 suspects, including one they consider the main perpetrator of the attack on Taton in front of a central Belgrade bar.

Serbian President Boris Tadic said the government would root out the violence he said threatened the "very basics of civilisation". Serbia would act "in the most serious and strict way" to tackle "all violent and extreme groups".

While football violence was rare during communist rule in Serbia and the rest of Yugoslavia, it erupted after a series of bloody conflicts tore the former Yugoslavia apart.

Taton appears to be the first foreign victim of soccer-related violence in Serbia, though Serbs have died in similar incidents in the last 10 years.

A 17-year old fan was killed by a flare launched from one end of the stadium to the other in a 1999 Belgrade derby between Partizan and Red Star. In December 2007, a Red Star fan attacked a plainclothes police officer with a burning flare and in September 2008 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempted murder.