Mon, Nov 27, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Police investigate shooting of French soccer `hooligan'

NARROW ESCAPE Aggressive Paris Saint-Germain fans chased supporters of an Israeli club, who managed to hide in a McDonald's where staff locked the entrance

THE OBSERVER , PARIS

French prosecutors yesterday on Saturday opened an investigation into the shooting of a soccer fan by a police officer during an outbreak of soccer hooliganism.

The plainclothes police officer, Antoine Granomort, was in custody after shooting dead a 24-year-old fan and wounding another, apparently with the same bullet, during an attack by Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) fans on a supporter of an Israeli club, Hapoel Tel Aviv, after Thursday night's Uefa Cup match in Paris.

The PSG fans shouted anti-semitic and racial epithets, and Granomort, a black officer, said he was trying to protect himself and a Hapoel fan described by officials as a French Jew.

Paris prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin opened the judicial inquiry. Marin wants Granomort to testify as a legally represented witness -- a status in French law between a witness and a suspect.

French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy announced that new legislation would be fast-tracked to tackle racist groups of fans.

He wants hooligans banned from matches and has championed anti-terrorism legislation that will boost video surveillance at sports grounds.

"We want no more racists in the stadium, no more Nazi salutes, no more monkey calls when a player of color touches the ball," Sarkozy said.

Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal proposed shutting down the stands where the gangs congregate.

"The club must accept its responsibility and shut down the stands where these unacceptable bursts of violence, racism and anti-semitism occur," she said.

The PSG fans had gone on the rampage on Thursday night after having watched their soccer team sink to a 4-2 defeat.

Jewish fans were targeted by groups of youths yelling anti-semitic slogans and performing Nazi salutes. Yanniv Hazout, 23, was chased and separated from his friends. At the time, Granomort was guarding police vehicles and stepped in, ordering Hazout to take cover behind him.

Perhaps uncertain as to whether Granomort was a policeman because he was in civilian clothing, the youths attacked. Granomort was overpowered and fired his gun.

Granomort and Hazout were able to escape to a McDonald's, where staff quickly locked the doors behind them. PSG fans then laid siege to the building, smashing windows and continuing to chant racist slogans before police backup eventually arrived on the scene.

"The police officer was punched and kicked and knocked to the floor before reacting with his gun," spokesman Jean-Claude Marin said. "I think we can safely believe he acted in self-defense, although of course we will fully investigate the circumstances."

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