New Twist in Serbian Fan Murder Case

Lawyer for Serbian hooligans jailed for killing a French football fan demands retrial as new witness comes forward, disputing the circumstances of his death.Retired policemen Dragan C, who was allegedly present when 28-year-old Brice Taton was fatally attacked by Serbian hooligans in 2009, has sent a letter to a Belgrade court, claiming that Taton jumped from the stairs and no one pushed him, as the verdict in the trial said.“As I helped Taton, together with my colleague, to transfer him to the emergency [services], the police interviewed me. But they forced me to change my testimony and say that he did not fall down but was thrown by someone from the stairs,” the letter said.

A Belgrade court sentenced the 14 suspects to a total of 240 years in prison for the murder of the French football fan in a first instance verdict in 2011.

But in January this year, the Court of Appeals in Belgrade halved the sentences of those responsible, reducing them to between four and 15 years each.

“The accused are guilty of ruthless and violent behaviour and the organised beating of Taton on September 17, 2009 at about 5.40pm at Obilicev venac [in Belgrade], inflicting serious injuries to Taton’s head and body, injuries from which he since died on September 29,” the original verdict said.

The French football fan was attacked prior to a football game between Serbia’s Partizan team and Toulouse of France. Twelve days later, he died of brain and other injuries sustained during the attack.

One of the defence lawyers for the accused, Zora Dobricanin, has said they will request a new trial since the new witness appeared.

The Prime Minister and Minister of Police, Ivica Dacic, has said he will investigate all new facts, including the statement of the former policeman, but that so far he does not expect a new trial.

The lawyer of the Taton family, Slobodan Ruzic, meanwhile, dismissed the new statement.

“The court confirmed that the emergency services first found Taton and that no one helped him. And no other witness has said anything similar. This letter is simply not valid and is untrue,” Ruzic said.

Following the verdict, the family has sued the Serbian state, requesting the 300,000 euro in compensation. That trial is expected to begin in September.

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