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German Court Convicts Soccer Fans

November 9, 1999

ESSEN, Germany (AP) _ A German court convicted four soccer fans today in the near-fatal beating of a French police officer at last year’s World Cup and handed down sentences ranging from 10 to 3 1/2 years in prison.

Andre Zawacki, 28, was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 10 years. Prosecutors accused him of causing the most serious injuries to the French officer, David Nivel, by smashing his head with a metal rod.

Tobias Reifschlaeger, 25, Frank Renger, 31, and Christopher Rauch, 24, were each convicted of causing serious bodily harm and given sentences of six, five and 3 1/2 years, respectively.

Hundreds of German soccer fans were in Lens, France, on June 21 for the sold-out match between Germany and Yugoslavia. Despite heavy police security, the situation became chaotic after the game ended in a 2-2 draw. As French officers sought to push back the hooligans, one group slipped into a side street where Nivel was posted with two other police.

``Get the cops,″ they shouted, according to the indictment. The other officers fled, and the group surrounded Nivel.

The next day, a photo of Nivel lying unconscious in a pool of blood hit newspapers around the world, shocking billions of fans following soccer’s premier event and casting a pall over the rest of the games.

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