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Foreign Justice

Problems of Euros past returned to haunt some Reds in Munich recently with the local police adopting tactics of which their Istanbul counterparts would be proud. The match passed off without incident but the problems were centred around the previous night at the Oktoberfest. A minor spat broke out in one tent between overly aggressive security and some of the 100 or so Reds present. Police were soon arresting any Reds left on the scene at the behest of the security despite some locals' protestations that it was the security to blame. The next morning, with those Reds still being held, the assumption was that they'd be let go on Thursday, with the match over. Not so.

Wednesday afternoon, back at the Oktoberfest, and the security started pulling people out from the crowds that they thought they recognized from the previous night, before handing them over to the police. Among those singled out were two lads who weren't in Germany the previous night, two who had been in a separate part of Munich and one lad who isn't a United fan. It would appear that there is a political agenda behind the arrests following the hospitalization of the French policeman by Germans at the World Cup, with the authorities keen to put the spotlight firmly back on the English. This was given credence by the Friday when the 15 lads found themselves in prison uniform charged with a variety of offences and the compilation of a report citing one Red, arrested on the Wednesday afternoon on the basis that his credit card was found in the beer tent, as the leader of a major international terrorism organisation which instigated the trouble. Seriously.

Some lads were released after nine days' incarceration but the rest are still in prison (as at 16/10/98) awaiting court appearances. One would imagine a decent brief would easily have them released but if the German authorities can pull out such ridiculous charges as "international terrorism" for an incident as serious as "breach of the peace" then it may not be all straight forward. In the meantime innocent lads' liberty and careers are on the line.

Problems also in Warsaw the night before the match against Lodz. A number of locals attacked a bar containing a small group of Reds who decided to stay put, having done nothing wrong. When the police arrived they were arrested and held till Thursday when their release was secured on the payment of 180 each. No charges, no deportations, no right of appeal, just two grand into government coffers. Or someone's pockets? A very strange kind of justice.

 


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