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Italy hits back at Polish minister over 'bandits' jibe

Tension over case of 22 Lazio fans detained in Warsaw

06 December, 15:36
Italy hits back at Polish minister over 'bandits' jibe (ANSA) - Rome, December 6 - Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino hit back Friday after Poland's Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz said a group of Lazio fans detained in Warsaw contained "bandits".

Around 150 fans of the Rome club were detained before Lazio's Europa League game against Legia Warsaw last week, allegedly for attacking police who were escorting them to the stadium.

Most were released in the days following Thursday's match after paying fines, but 22 remain in custody.

Rome is pressing for them to be released and Premier Enrico Letta brought the issue up during a meeting with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Thursday.

Tusk pledged to take action to assure there are no delays in handling the fans' cases, but Sienkiewicz struck a very different tone.

The minister said he understood the distress of family members who had come to Poland to assist the arrested fans, but stressed that "the law is the same for everyone, both Poles and foreigners".

He also went against the logic of people being innocent until proven guilty by calling the supporters bandits.

"I think those words were improper, especially from a minister, who should remember that responsibility is individual and, therefore, should not generalise any eventual guilt," Bonino said.

The foreign minister said the Polish police had admitted that some fans who were detained had nothing to do with any trouble and said there was evidence they were treated "inadequately". Italian and Polish soccer both have long-standing problems with hooliganism. Lazio's fans have one of the worst records for trouble among Serie A supporters.

Police arrested 17 Lazio fans following a fight outside a hotel in the Polish capital on the night before the match in a separate incident.

The Rome side won 2-0 to book themselves a place in the knock-out round of Europe's secondary club competition.