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Serbian Soccer Chief Questioned By Police Over Fan-Mafia Links


Serbian police officers gather outside Partizan stadium during a raid in Belgrade on February 4.

The president of the Football Association of Serbia has been questioned by police in Belgrade in connection with recent arrests of several members of soccer fan groups who are accused of murder, kidnapping, and drug trafficking.

Slavisa Kokeza, who heads the Belgrade-based governing body for soccer in Serbia, was questioned about his links to leaders of Partizan Belgrade supporter groups who were arrested earlier in February in what officials say is a major crackdown against soccer's links with organized crime.

Details from the police investigation leaked to the media include alleged killings by group members of their rivals, including decapitations and torture in a special "bunker" at the Partizan stadium in the Serbian capital.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who has often boasted about his youth as a radical supporter of Partizan's rival Red Star Belgrade, said on February 27 that some of the "shocking" details of the investigation would be made public during the coming week.

He said children will be warned not to watch the reports.

Serbia has a history of tolerating hooliganism that often resulted in violence and outbursts of nationalism at stadiums. During the Balkan wars in the 1990s, many of them joined notorious paramilitary groups linked to war crimes against other national groups in the former Yugoslavia.

More than a dozen prominent figures from Serbian soccer supporters' groups have been killed in recent years. Most have perished in gangland-style killings.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Balkan Service and AP
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