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Tuesday, November 9, 1999 Published at 16:06 GMT

World: Europe

Germans jailed for World Cup attack

Judge said Renger (left) and Rauch behaved "like monsters"

Four Germans have been found guilty of carrying out a brutal attack on a French policeman during last year's World Cup in France.

The main defendant, Andre Zawacki, 28, was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

[ image: Daniel Nivel: kicked in head]
Daniel Nivel: kicked in head
Tobias Reifschlaeger, 25, Frank Renger, 31, and Christopher Rauch, 24, were convicted of causing serious bodily harm and given sentences of six, five and three-and-a-half years, respectively.

Gendarme Daniel Nivel was left in a coma when he was kicked and beaten about the head after a match between Germany and Yugoslavia in the northern French city of Lens on 21 June 1998.

The attack was so violent that he was close to death when his colleagues found him lying on a side street.

The 44-year-old father of two still has difficulty moving and speaking, is blind in one eye and cannot remember what happened on that day.

He, his wife and younger son were in the crowded courtroom in the western German town of Essen as a judge handed down the sentences.


[ image: Reifschlaeger admitted taking part in the attack]
Reifschlaeger admitted taking part in the attack
Rauch was the only one of the four who denied any involvement in the attack.

The other three admitted carrying out the beating, but not with the severity alleged by the prosecution. They also apologised to Mr Nivel's family during the trial.

Witnesses identified Zawacki as the person who beat Mr Nivel on the back of the head with his own teargas canister.

Zawacki admitted hitting Mr Nivel once on the body or arm with a wine bottle but denied causing any head injuries.

Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of 14 years for Zawacki and six to eight years for the others. The defence requested leniency on grounds of drunkenness.

'German disgrace'

[ image: Fans went on the rampage during the World Cup]
Fans went on the rampage during the World Cup
The chief judge, Rudolf Esders, said the defendants "are not monsters. They are men who behaved like monsters on that day".

Germany was bitterly shamed by the violence. The then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl called it a "disgrace for Germany", and offered to withdraw from the World Cup.

The attack was considered the most brutal incident in numerous outbreaks of violence during the tournament.

The case was closely watched because Germany is one of five countries hoping to host the 2006 soccer World Cup. Security will be a key issue when officials make their decision next summer.

Another German suspect, 28-year-old Markus Warnecke, was arrested in France and faces trial there.

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