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Jailed Man United fans freed after winning appeal in Rome

· Sentences were reduced and then suspended
· Supporters claim the four men were set up by police

Source : The Guardian

Link : http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/may/03/internationalcrime.manchesterunited

Author : Tom Kington in Rome


Four Manchester United fans locked up in Italian jails since December walked free yesterday, after winning an appeal to get charges for fighting with Rome police reduced and their sentences cut.Friends and relatives of the men celebrated outside a Rome court after the decision, claiming the four had been set up by police to make an example of them, and that they had been beaten by officers and denied access to proper legal assistance.


"I am absolutely elated," said Janet Dillon, whose son Kyle, 24, was originally sentenced to two years and five months for clashing with police and local fans outside Rome's Olympic stadium on December 12, ahead of Manchester United's Champions League match with Roma.
Fellow fan Richard Wimmer, 39, received the same sentence, while Nicholas Lukacs, 18 and Michael Burke, 35, received two years and four months.
Yesterday the sentences were reduced to 16 months, allowing the release of the four on suspended sentences. Defence lawyer Roberta Ceschini said she had not seen the judge's ruling, but that it was likely two charges of violence had been dropped.


At the hearing, the men pleaded guilty to resisting arrest, but relatives claimed they were innocent. "We were advised to accept this verdict in order to get the boys home immediately," said Lukacs's sister Katerina. Seeking to overturn all charges would have led to a longer trial, said Ceschini.
Janet Dillon, whose son is registered as partially sighted, said she would now seek to overturn the remaining charge.


Lukacs's mother, Anne, said her son, now saddled with a criminal record, would be unable to return to his job at a law firm.


"There is no such word as justice here," said Carmon Ducker, Burke's girlfriend.
On December 12, the four fans ignored advice from Manchester United to board a laid-on bus that would have taken them into the Olympic stadium, preferring to catch a city bus which left them on the Duca D'Aosta bridge nearby. "The fan buses were arriving four to five hours before the game and they were concerned about what had happened inside the stadium at the previous match," said Janet Dillon.


Manchester fans were baton charged in the stands in April 2007 by police.
At their trial, the four were accused of throwing objects and clashing with Roma fans and police on the bridge, but Ceschini said that charge had now weakened.


"The men would have been difficult to identify at the scene and the evidence against them appeared inconsistent," she said.


Relatives said that the four had also been persuaded to face a rapid trial with limited evidence in December. "Thanks to poor translators they were under the impression they would sign and go home," said Anne Lukacs.

"They were made into scapegoats," said Janet Dillon.
 

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If it's true that Fergie sent them a letter saying there's nothing he could do, I find that very sad. Of course there is something he and the club could have done and that's to send them a good attorney.

Of course from what I heat OT headquarters is way too corporate now and helping thsoe fans would have set a "bad precedence" and other fans in future might look for the clubs help.

Sheeesh.... if the fans go all the way to support you,l you should support them too! :mad:
 

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fergie has done what he can by putting pressure on italian authorities over heavy handed policing . he cant be seen to intervene as if it turns out genuine acts of thuggary are commited he gets accused of condoning it . glad they are out lets hope this serves notice for moscow where plod are just as bad
 

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haggler said:
fergie has done what he can by putting pressure on italian authorities over heavy handed policing . he cant be seen to intervene as if it turns out genuine acts of thuggary are commited he gets accused of condoning it . glad they are out lets hope this serves notice for moscow where plod are just as bad
Precisely, his words are powerful enough. And although media mentioning would have helped, it is not always needed.

The club could possibly have done more, but had they actually done wrong (improbbable) then what?

GREAT news their out btw, and it was an injstice in the first place, unlike our freind Mr Shields...! ;)
 

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haggler said:
fergie has done what he can by putting pressure on italian authorities over heavy handed policing . he cant be seen to intervene as if it turns out genuine acts of thuggary are commited he gets accused of condoning it . glad they are out lets hope this serves notice for moscow where plod are just as bad
I agree 100%.

And he had no evidence to tell whether they were involved in thuggary or not. And, basically, United trying to save every fan whos arrested at a game would be stupid.

But I'm glad to hear they were released. The only problem was the Roma fans and police.
 

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If they were falsley jalied they should go back to England and file a legal complaint and take it to another level and look for compensation
 

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wonder if they lobbed a quid or two in the trevi fountain before they were bundled on their planes ?

cue a post in two days time from someone who hasnt posted for ages claiming to be one of the four
 

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On December 12, the four fans ignored advice from Manchester United to board a laid-on bus that would have taken them into the Olympic stadium, preferring to catch a city bus which left them on the Duca D'Aosta bridge nearby.
I think this is highly relevant too; explains why they were in the situation they got themselves in.
 
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