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Defendant Admits Kicking Officer

May 5, 1999

ESSEN, Germany (AP) _ A second defendant charged with savagely beating a French policeman at last year’s World Cup admitted today that he had kicked the officer, but denied stomping on his head as prosecutors charge.

Frank Renger, 31, also recanted in court an earlier statement to police in which he said he saw another defendant, Andre Zawacki, club the officer on the head during the June 21 attack.

Renger, Zawacki, Tobias Reifschlaeger and Christopher Rauch face attempted murder and other charges stemming from the attack, one of the worst incidents of violence during last year’s soccer championship in France.

Reifschlaeger, 24, testified on the trial’s opening day last week that he kicked the officer, Daniel Nivel, but not in the head as prosecutors allege.

He and two other defendants expressed regret for their role in the attack, while Rauch remained silent.

Renger told the court he had gone to Lens to see Germany play Yugoslavia, but couldn’t afford the prices scalpers were demanding for the sold-out game. After watching the game on television, he said he joined a group of soccer hooligans, then got caught up in the attack when a group of eight to 12 went after Nivel.

``I was like electrified and also kicked, once against the leg and a second time, I don’t know where,″ he testified. But he denied stomping with his heel on Nivel’s head, saying Nivel was still conscious at the time and covering his head with his hands.

He said he fled after seeing another hooligan break a board over Nivel’s head, knocking him out. Therefore, he said, he really didn’t know if Zawacki clubbed Nivel with a metal rod, as he had told police earlier.

He said he had implicated Zawacki before because police told him it would make a good impression on the court.

Nivel, a 44-year-old father of two, was in a coma for six weeks, and is still undergoing physical therapy to regain his speech and increase his mobility. The attack also left him nearly blind on one eye.

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