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Violence Football hooligan sent to jail in landmark trial

Violence is a problem in many Swiss football and ice-hockey stadiums


A man has received a three-year prison sentence after a court found him guilty of throwing fireworks and smoke bombs during a Swiss top league football match last year.

This is the first time that charges were brought against an individual for violence in a Swiss stadium.

On Wednesday, the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona found the 23-year-old man guilty of repeated use of explosives, violation of Swiss explosives law, property damage and grievous bodily harm. 

The judges suspended 18 months of the sentence, but ordered the defendant to pay a fine of about CHF10,000 ($10,300) and financial compensation of CHF12,000 to a victim who suffered hearing loss as a result of the attack. 

The incident, which also caused material damage, occurred during a football match between FC Lucerne and FC St Gallen in February 2016.

The verdict is still subject to appeal to the Supreme Court. 

The prosecutor demanded a four-year jail sentence, saying the St Gallen hooligan was fully aware that people might be injured and the stadium and pitch could be damaged. 

During their investigation, police discovered 1,651 fireworks weighing a total of 100kg at the home of the accused. In 2016, the man was banned from Swiss stadiums for ten years.

The defence pleaded for acquittal on the main charges. 

Registered hooligans 

Violence remains a problem at football and ice hockey matches in Switzerland, notably increased attacks against police officers and security staff. 

As of July 2017, there were 1,592 people in the Federal Police Office’s so-called HOOGAN databaseexternal link (1,224 for football-related hooligan offences and 415 for hockey). They include fans who have been banned from stadiums or from travelling to matches abroad, as well as those who must report to police stations during events. This compares to 974 hooligans – 645 football- and 329 hockey-related – recorded in the database in 2010. 

In recent years, police hooligan statistics have remained relatively stable. 

“We have managed to stop the worsening trend of violence between fans and fights outside stadiums. But there is still a great deal of work to do,” Roger Schneeberger, secretary general of the Conference of Cantonal Justice and Police Directors, told the 24Heures newspaper. 

“The biggest problem today is when fans travel to games. Effective transport partnership agreements exist but they are not everywhere.” 

But there are other issues such as the wearing of hoods and balaclavas, which has made the identification and sanctioning of hooligans an ‘enormous task’, said Schneeberger. with agencies, urs/sb

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