What happened to trials?
Projected law change suits hooligans
At the beginning of 2013 it was announced that several hooligan gang leaders would go on trial before the end of the year. The Supreme Court announced that it was establishing three committees through which judges would propose how to speed up criminal trials within 90 days while Security Minister Sergio Berni also said that trials must be speeded up.
This columnist never believed any of this... and nothing happened! Berni also asked judges and prosecutors to work harder and said that some judges “forget” to enforces the law properly, while he wants club presidents to collaborate. Some hope! Recently, Real Madrid’s security chief visited Buenos Aires and was amazed at how much they talk about the problem of hooligan gangs and nothing is done about it. I would also like to know why President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner asked clubs to send her the list of their hooligans in 2012. Was it to protect the named hooligans which, she once said, are part of soccer’s tradition?
So what is the government doing about it? A bill is being presented to change the crime of “illicit association” simply to “criminal acts” which, as is being said, will make prosecution easier. Nothing of the kind! For one thing, it lets club officials collaborating with hooligans off the hook and a prosecutor explained to the Herald that it would be yet another law to protect criminals from prosecution.
AT BOCA JUNIORS, Rafael Di Zeo, leader one of its hooligan groups, has a long list of prosecutions against him which are still pending, some from 2012 and before. He has got off free every time so far, except once and went to jail with his sentence cut by almost half. Together with him, several police officers who collaborated with him, will be on trial. We are still waiting! Another hooligan is in jail for a murder which has nothing to do with soccer and a second is on the run. The only other person who went to jail for a couple of weeks for helping him was ex-San Lorenzo goalkeeper Migliore.
While Di Zeo is also involved in handing tickets to San Lorenzo hooligans so they could go to the San Lorenzo-Boca Juniors match (banned for visiting team fans) which has been investigated with no result, there was also the investigation about the re-sale of match tickets by hooligans which robbed Boca members of tickets which seems to have petered out. Judge Manuel de Campos has sent some hooligans to trial due in mid-2014. Will it really happen?
Boca Juniors president Daniel Angelici is right in saying that the government should stop hooligans getting into stadiums which should not be left to club officials; it is rather ironic that he should say that the problem will never be solved when he has shown to be an example of a president trying to protect his so-called "official" gang and himself from prosecution.
AT RIVER PLATE, in 2007, a gang member (Gonzalo Acro) was murdered. Several suspects went on trial and were sentenced to jail — including the two gang leaders, the well-to-do Schlenker brothers who received life sentences, but are still free. One of the two was even allowed to leave the country for a while. For some reason (?) their sentences were not due to be confirmed until the middle of last year, but this never happened. Also, in 2007, there was a fight inside the club between two groups of hooligan fans with weapons and several injuries. The so-called "investigation" was closed last year without any results.
In 2011, referee Sergio Pezzotta of River Plate’s playoff match which finally relegated them to the National B Division, was threatened at half-time by River Plate’s hooligan gang to do everything to let the club win (or else). The gang was filmed and it is known who they are while one of them said that club officials had sent them. Only last year, it was announced that they would go on trial this year, Who knows?
AT INDEPENDIENTE, its president, Javier Cantero said he would get the hooligans out of the club. He didn’t! Of course, he had no help from the authorities, nor from the Argentine FA nor other clubs. But first he gave them flags, then was continually attacked for not giving the hooligans any other help (free tickets and fares to away games and money they had received before, etc.) as also were other groups working for the club. One match was suspended last season when two groups of hooligans, with weapons, fought outside the stadium. The police took no further action, apparently because they could not find who owned the weapons. Is that the law?
AT RACING CLUB, three hooligans will be prosecuted for the murder of club member Nicolás Pacheco. This was announced by a court last June, but nothing has happened yet. Also finally announced last year was the trial of 20 gang members for the murder of Independiente fan Gustavo Rivero. That happened many years ago and a trial had been announced before, but never carried out.
AT VÉLEZ SARSFIELD, last year, a gang member (Diego Bogado) was murdered on the premises in a room to which the gang had the key. Several hooligans have been jailed in the investigation, but have not been prosecuted. There were video cameras in that room, but investigators say the images had been rubbed out. Also, a member of the staff said that hooligans are being given 300 invitations and 700 other free tickets for every home match under orders from the committee.
The list of unfinished investigations and unaccepted proofs continues and the latest is the ticket scandal at River Plate with the committee and hooligans involved. The question is are court authorities no good or do they not want to punish hooligans?