Tue, Nov 13, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Italian soccer fans run riot


Italian authorities detained four people yesterday accused of taking part in Rome riots triggered by the accidental killing of a soccer fan by a policeman at a highway rest stop the previous day.

The 26-year-old Gabriele Sandri was shot and killed on Sunday when a policeman fired a warning shot to disperse a clash between Lazio and Juventus supporters at a rest stop in Tuscany.

Sandri, a disc jockey from Rome, was hit in the neck by a bullet while sitting in a car.

Police said they intervened to stop a scuffle between two groups of people at the rest stop -- Sandri's Lazio fans and a small group of Juventus fans. Police had intervened from the opposite side of the highway, where they had stopped for an unrelated check on vehicles.

Sandri's death forced the suspension of three Serie A matches as clashes erupted in Rome, Milan and other cities.

The riots were the latest episode of soccer-related violence in Italy. In February, the death of a policeman at a Serie A game led authorities to tighten security measures in and around soccer stadiums.

The ANSA news agency reported that an autopsy on Sandri's body was scheduled to be carried out later yesterday in Arezzo, about 200km north of Rome where Sandri was killed.

The policeman who fired the fatal shot, whose identity has not been released, was quoted as saying in Corriere della Sera that he did not aim at anyone.

"I was 200m away," he said. "I fired the first shot in the air and the second went off as I was running."

An earlier police statement said the officer had fired both shots in the air.

News of the death spread as fans gathered at stadiums for Sunday's games. Inter-Lazio, Atalanta-AC Milan and Roma-Cagliari were all suspended, with the remaining matches being delayed.

In Rome, fans rioted into the night, attacking police barracks near the Stadio Olimpico and raiding the nearby Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) headquarters.

Four men were detained in Rome early yesterday, police said, while ANSA reported that about 40 officers were injured.

Also See: Juventus rally from two down to draw at Parma

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