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Wednesday, January 14, 1998 Published at 22:41 GMT



Sport

Fast-track justice for World Cup hooligans

The Football Supporters' Association has expressed fears that English fans could become the innocent victims of "summary justice" at the World Cup finals in France this year.

The warning comes after tournament organisers announced they would be using a fast-track system of justice for suspected hooligans.


[ image: Most tickets are on sale in France]
Most tickets are on sale in France
Organisers also appear to have made no immediate concessions to appeals from the Football Association for more tickets for England fans.

They insist the current arrangements are sufficient and that fears of a black market in tickets are unfounded.

A delegation of FA chiefs and police officers spent Wednesday meeting the French organisers in Paris to raise concerns over tickets and security.

Afterwards, the French announced that as part of their apparent get-tough policy for the tournament, there would be a state prosecutor at each match who would speed up the legal process for supporters who stepped out of line.

Prosecutors will investigate the case there and then when police bring alleged offenders to them and rule as quickly as possible whether charges should be brought.

If fans are found guilty of offences which carry a prison sentence, they can expect to go to a French jail.

Nicolas Jacquet, a magistrate at France's Ministry of Justice, said: "Having the state prosecutor within the stadium will ensure that if an offence is committed, and is serious enough, we are in a position to bring someone before a judge within 48 hours."


[ image: British police officers will be on duty at stadiums in France]
British police officers will be on duty at stadiums in France
English police will work alongside French counterparts during the summer tournament rooting out troublemakers.

Tim Hollis from the Association of Chief Police Officers said: "If they think they can come across here (to France) and hide in the crowd, we will do our absolute utmost to make sure they can't get away with it.


[ image: Tim Hollis: hooligans will be
Tim Hollis: hooligans will be "severly dealt with"
"The message from the French is if they do come and break the law they will be very severely dealt with," said Mr Hollis.

Georges Querry, a representative of a French inter-ministerial group working on World Cup security, added: "Heavy sentences, prison, fines, banning from the stadium for anyone who carries out any damage, are all provided for."

But Shiela Spiers, vice-chairman of the FSA, warned that dealing so quickly with suspected troublemakers could lead to miscarriages of justice.

She said: "This concerns us greatly. Starting court cases so quickly does not allow people to conduct a proper defence. They should have the time to speak to the British representatives and lawyers first.

"We have seen far too many examples in the past of English fans being wrongly accused and we don't want supporters to be the victims of summary justice."






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