news 07 Mar 13

Serbia Pledges Special Prosecutors for Sports Thugs

As violence at sports events continues in Serbia, the authorities say they will introduce special courts and prosecutors to help root out hooliganism.

Bojana Barlovac

Serbia's Council for the Prevention of Violence in Sport, chaired by Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, on Wednesday announced the establishment of special prosecutors and judicial departments to prosecute hooligans.

Alisa Maric, the Sports Minister, said that the rise in violence at sporting events required a decisive response.

"Curbing this violence is an imperative in order to preserve sports, the security of athletes themselves, and all those who would like to enjoy sports competitions with their families," Maric said.

A month ago, Dragan Djilas, President of the Serbian Basketball Federation, KSS, and the deputy Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vucic, jointly pledged to curb sports violence after clashes between fans marred a basketball cup final in Kragujevac on February 10.

Serbia formerly had a special prosecutor for sports violence who attended all high-risk matches until 2009. The position was envisioned under the 2003 Law on the Prevention of Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events.

However, the post was scrapped as part of judicial reforms in 2009 on the grounds that it had not yielded results. 

Besides the clashes in Kragujevac, Serbia has seen several incidents of sports-related violence lately.   

Last October, violent scenes in the Serbia-England Euro 2013 qualifying match made world headines. Fans ran on to the pitch and scuffles broke out after England beat Serbia 1-0 in the town of Krusevac.

In February, UEFA demanded Serbia to do more to tackle sports-related hooliganism.

Previously, UEFA has fined Serbia's football association on several occasions for violence and racist behaviour by football fans.

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