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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 May 2006, 20:20 GMT 21:20 UK
Croatia champs aid Hague suspects
By Nick Hawton
BBC News, Zagreb

Dinamo Zagreb celebrate winning the championship
Zagreb had already secured the championship before the match
Croatia's football champions are to donate proceeds from their last league match of the season to help Croatian war crimes suspects at The Hague.

Dinamo Zagreb's Maksimir stadium was filled to its 45,000 capacity, after the club urged as many fans as possible to attend Saturday's game.

They saw the team complete a convincing win of the league championship.

Croatia's most notable defendant in The Hague is ex-Gen Ante Gotovina - accused of atrocities against Serbs in 1995.

Prominent individuals and institutions in Croatia have expressed support for Croatian war crime suspects - but perhaps not in such a public way.

Riot film

The team beat rivals Hadjuk Split 1-0.

Before the game a short film was shown marking the 16th anniversary of the infamous football riot which took place between Serbian and Croatian fans in May 1990 and which many still see as a symbol of the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

Gen Gotovina in Spanish custody
Gen Gotovina was arrested in December 2005

For Saturday's game Dinamo's coach had appealed for as many fans as possible to attend the match.

The club announced that all the money received was being given to the Foundation for the Truth about the Homeland War, which raises money to support Croats facing trial at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

Many of the fans attending the game said they had come merely to watch their team celebrate winning the championship and did not care where their money was going.

The most notable beneficiary is likely to be Gen Gotovina, who until his arrest at the end of last year was one of The Hague's most wanted war crimes suspects.

Defendants in The Hague receive support in varying amounts from their home governments as well as donations from individuals.

Prosecutors at The Hague have refused to comment on Dinamo's plans, saying it is a private matter.

But the decision by Dinamo Zagreb shows that there is still popular support for former soldiers facing trial in The Hague.


SEE ALSO:
Croat suspect to be film 'hero'
28 Mar 06 |  Europe
Croat suspect denies war crimes
12 Dec 05 |  Europe


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