A staggering 103 people have been issued blanket charges of murder, assault, and illegal possession of explosive material in Greece. The charges come after a Champions League soccer match was canceled due to the murder of a fan. The match between AEK Athens and Dinamo Zagreb was suspended hours before kick-off after a riot reportedly instigated by fans of the Croatian team left a 29-year-old Greek fan dead. Video of the riot showed fans wielding bats and iron bars outside OPAP Arena in Athens. Explosive devices such as petrol bombs were also detonated as part of the riot.
Many of the suspects, 97 of whom are Croatian nationals, hid their faces with their shirts as they appeared in front of the magistrate. It is likely that most will have the murder charge dropped as the investigation continues. Meanwhile, Greek authorities announced a further six arrests. All six individuals, all Croatian nationals, were caught trying to flee the county. Five were detained attempting to board a ferry to Italy. Another was caught trying to escape via bus to Albania.
Athens Takes Stock, Fears Further Violence
ATHENS, GREECE – AUGUST 08: A man lays flowers in the memory of 29-year-old Greek fan died during the overnight clashes between rival supporters in Nea Filadelfeia, Athens, Greece on August 08, 2023. (Photo by Dimitris Lampropoulos/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A tribute outside OPAP Arena was soon established for Michalis Katsouris, who was stabbed to death outside the stadium. Meanwhile, Greek Public Order Minister Giannis Oikonomou said the police had made “tragic errors” in handling fans from Croatia traveling to the game. Ignoring calls to resign, Oikonomou suspended several senior law enforcement officers pending investigation. Meanwhile, the city braces itself as it prepares to host the UEFA Super Cup Final next week. The match will feature Manchester City and Sevilla.
Elsewhere, AEK Athens called for “immediate and severe punishment” against their Croatian opponents. Furthermore, the Greek side expressed disappointment that the fixture was set to go ahead in Zagreb later this month. “The question that torments our fans is one that we described from the outset and that also torments us: How is it possible that following the brutal murder of Michalis by a gang of vicious criminals from Croatia, for AEK Athens to enter the field and play against this team?” AEK said. “Will any of his killers be in the stands?” However, a joint statement from the mayors of Athens and Zagreb called for calm and civility.