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Germans Investigated in Cop Beating

June 24, 1998

LILLE, France (AP) _ Authorities fighting World Cup violence have placed two Germans under formal investigation in the beating that left a police officer in a coma.

The men have denied the allegations stemming from a clash after Sunday’s Germany-Yugoslavia match in Lens, just southwest of Lille. Three others were given one-year jail terms.

Scores of fans and police officers have been injured in violence in French cities hosting the five-week soccer championship that began June 10.

More than 250 people have been arrested; some have been sentenced to jail terms or deported. An English fan has been hospitalized in critical condition.

As a result, tighter security, alcohol restrictions and early bar closings have been planned for some matches, including Germany-Iran in Montpellier on Thursday and England-Colombia in Lens on Friday.

The Germans placed under formal investigation Tuesday night were Markus Warnecke, 27, owner of a tattoo shop and body-piercing parlor in Hanover, and Steffen Karl Elschner, 26, a record salesman from Braunschweig.

Formal investigation is one step short of being charged.

Warnecke, who was ordered to remain in jail, has refused to talk to police, said his lawyer, Bertrand Wambeke.

He was described as a high-school graduate from a well-off family. He sometimes worked as a bouncer in a red-light district club in Hanover.

Police also were questioning a 17-year-old Austrian they believe may have taken photos of the attack on the policeman and sold them to the German press, French radio reported today. The Austrian was being detained, though it wasn’t clear what crime, if any, he was being accused of.

The policeman, 43-year-old Daniel Nivel, remained hospitalized in Lille, where doctors today said his condition was stable.

``He is still in a serious coma and on a respirator,″ a morning medical bulletin said. He was to undergo a brain scan later in the day.

In Germany, various donation campaigns have been started to help the family of the policeman, among them one by Berlin police, by Bavarian businessmen, and by the ARD broadcast network.

In all, 93 Germans and three French were detained in the spasm of violence in Lens Sunday afternoon.

In Toulouse, meanwhile, an English fan stabbed in the stomach and lungs by a local attacker was improving Wednesday after being reported in ``very serious condition″ a day earlier.

The status of Steven James Clarke, 38, was ``more reassuring,″ a terse hospital statement said Wednesday. It did not list his precise condition but said he remained in intensive care because of ``the extent of the treatment carried out.″

Clarke’s attacker remained at large.

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