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Germans Sentenced Over Soccer Clash

June 24, 1998

LILLE, France (AP) _ Three more Germans were convicted and sentenced to prison as France grappled with World Cup violence that has left a policeman in a coma and an English fan in critical condition.

Scores of fans and several police officers have been injured in violence in several French cities staging the soccer championship. More than 200 people have been arrested.

A court in the northern city of Bethune, near Lille, convicted the three Germans to a year in prison for attacking police in some of the World Cup’s worst outbreaks. It followed Sunday’s game between Germany and Yugoslavia in nearby Lens.

They were also barred from France for two years after serving their terms.

Authorities probing the attack in Lens that left policeman David Nivel in a coma placed two Germans under formal investigation _ one step short of being charged _ for attempted murder.

Markus Warnecke, a 27-year-old tattoo shop owner and skinhead from Hanover, Germany, was ordered to remain in jail. He denied the allegation and refused to talk to police, said his lawyer, Bertrand Wambeke.

Warnecke and 27-year-old Karl-Heinz Elschner were under investigation for allegedly bashing in the head of the policeman. Doctors called Nivel’s condition ``still very worrying.″

In all, 93 Germans and three French were detained in the spasm of violence in Lens. Six Germans were to be deported.

President Jacques Chirac called the violence swirling around World Cup stadiums ``unacceptable.″ Prime Minister Lionel Jospin denounced the ``cowardice″ of ``these showoffs.″ German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who called Chirac to express his sorrow, said the Lens attack was ``a scandal for our nation.″

In Toulouse, an English fan was hospitalized in ``very serious condition″ and on life support Tuesday after being stabbed in the stomach and lungs.

Steven James Clarke, 38, underwent three hours of surgery after the attack that occurred around Monday night’s match between England and Romania.

Circumstances of the attack were unclear, but Clarke was with two other English fans who were attacked while walking in the working-class Embalot neighborhood near the stadium.

The week before, violence in Marseille between English fans and French North African youths before and after the England-Tunisia match left about 50 people injured. Police arrested more than 100.

Another English fan in Toulouse was sentenced to four months in prison for violence after Monday’s match. Maurice Woodward, 26, was also banned from returning to France for two years after his jail term.

A British reporter, Andrew Woodcock of the Press Association, broke his collarbone when English fans, who accused him of giving them a bad name, threw him to the ground against a concrete pylon in Toulouse on Monday.

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