French FARE partner LICRA have welcomed the dropping of charges against four members of Horda Frenetik, an anti-fascism FC Metz supporters group. In a statement LICRA said,
“The four fans of the Lorraine region club were accused of having ‘introduced, worn or displayed insignia, signs or symbols characteristic of racial or xenophobic ideology in the form of a swastika inside a sporting facility,’ at the Saint-Symphorien stadium on 22nd October last year, when Metz were playing against Angers.
“At the match, supporters displayed a flag whose picture, a swastika bearing a fist and the words “Gegen Nazis” (against Nazis) was misinterpreted by the BAC (anti-crime unit) at the stadium. Following their violent arrest, the four members of Horda Frenetik were held in custody for sixteen hours.
“The safety manager of FC Metz had initially pressed charges, before the club’s president, Bernard Serin, withdrew the club’s charges when he recognized the absurdity of the situation. Despite the absence of plaintiffs, the trial was not cancelled and the four supporters were forbidden entry to the stadium.
“Bernard, prosecutor at the trial, which took place on 27th January, made a wise ruling and demanded the dismissal of the four defendants. During the trial, he made reference to the “Gegen Nazis” campaign in Germany that has been fighting against Nazism for many years.
“The League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism organization, LICRA, is delighted with this court ruling. All challenges against Nazism must be encouraged. LICRA cannot understand how anybody who is behind an initiative or message attacking this scourge could be condemned.”