BELGRADE (Reuters) -- The Serbian authorities have charged 15 people with the premeditated murder of a French soccer fan in Belgrade last September, the state prosecutor said today.
Brice Taton, 28, sustained multiple head and chest injuries when Partizan Belgrade fans attacked him with iron bars and baseball bats on September 17 before a Europa League match against Toulouse. He died 12 days later despite several operations.
"The group mercilessly attacked Taton, fully aware of the severity and illegality of their act," said a statement issued by the Serbian State Prosecutor's office.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 40 years in prison, the maximum sentence under Serbian law.
Police have arrested 13 suspects, including one they consider the main perpetrator of the attack on Taton in front of a central Belgrade bar. Two suspects remain at large.
The death of the French soccer fan prompted President Boris Tadic and the government to launch a campaign to root out violence in sport as well as racist attacks and those on foreigners and minority groups such as Roma or homosexuals.
Taton was the first foreigner to die in soccer-related violence in Serbia, though about a dozen Serbs have died or been seriously injured in similar incidents in the last decade.