Police eye hooligans

Police believe they are close to catching five suspects who allegedly masterminded and took part in the events that led to the death of a 22-year-old man during a mass brawl between some 500 hooligans last week. Sports Minister Giorgos Orfanos is expected to propose today that fans be barred from attending soccer matches for the rest of the season, following last Thursday’s clash. High-ranking police sources told Kathimerini yesterday that authorities have identified three Olympiakos fans who murdered Panathinaikos fan Michalis Filopoulos in Paeania on Thursday and another two men who allegedly were instrumental in organizing the violent meeting between the two groups of fans. Two of the suspects allegedly stabbed Filopoulos, while the third hit the 22-year-old over the head with a blunt object, possibly a piece of wood or a metal chain. An autopsy revealed that these blows proved fatal. The information about the five suspects that police are preparing to arrest appears to have been provided by some of the 13 people who were taken into custody last week. One of the 13, the president of an Olympiakos supporters’ club in Korydallos, was jailed yesterday. Four others were released on bail. Authorities have also been told that at least two Olympiakos fans recorded the brawl on video cameras. Officers have been searching fan club websites in the hope that incriminating videos have been posted on the Internet. A video showing a group of men attempting to attack Filopoulos as he was lying on the ground has already been aired on television. Police have gained vital information from this video. Minister Orfanos is due to meet today with the representatives of Greece’s three biggest soccer teams, Olympiakos, Panathinaikos and AEK Athens. He is expected to propose that the remaining four rounds of the league be played behind closed doors. Also, he is set to demand that soccer teams break off their links with supporters’ clubs, which they supply with tickets and organizational support. Recent raids on Panathinaikos and Olympiakos supporters’ clubs have yielded a range of weapons and drugs.

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