Court weighs appeal by Serbs convicted of French fan murder

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A Serbian court on Monday opened a public hearing on an appeal by 14 Serb hooligans convicted of up to 35 years in jail for the brutal killing of a French football fan.

Several defence attorneys said they favor a retrial, claiming that the proceedings had not established the guilt of their client in the killing of Brice Taton.

Taton was attacked in a bar and beaten with baseball bats ahead of Toulouse's 3-2 Europa League victory over Partizan on September 17, 2009.

He died in a Belgrade hospital 12 days later.

The appeals tribunal, which will examine the case at a public session till Friday, could fully confirm the verdicts, modify them or order a retrial. It could also order a new hearing on the case.

A Belgrade court in January sentenced the 14 men, all die-hard fans of Partizan Belgrade, to jail terms ranging from four to 35 years.

Twelve were convicted of first degree murder and the other two of violent behaviour.

During the trial, none of the witnesses called, including several French nationals and two protected witnesses, shed light on what happened with Taton or who beat him.

Two of the 14 convicts were tried in absentia and are still at large.

© 2011 AFP

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