Rome

Ultra soccer fans threw gas into Rome pub to stun rivals

Three arrested, others expected in vicious attack last November

Ultra soccer fans threw gas into Rome pub to stun rivals

Rome, February 6 - The three men arrested Wednesday in connection with a vicious attack last November on fans of London club Tottenham Hotspur threw a type of suffocating gas into a Rome pub to stun their intended victims, police say. Fulvio Marra, 24, Tony Vratuli, 36, and Nicolae Rotariu, 33, have been charged with wounding and causing aggravated damage in the brutal attack on November 22 that left one English supporter in a serious condition. All were required to provide DNA samples to compare with weapons and clothing found at the scene, where as many as 50 armed and masked men attacked rival soccer fans in a pub in Rome's famous Campo de' Fiori square. Others are being questioned and more arrests are possible, police said. Nine homes were raided before the arrests as police gathered evidence of what an investigating judge called "blind and unprecedented violence" that was clearly premeditated. According to the judge Antonella Capri, Rotariu "broke in to the pub as a wolf in search of its prey, hit and kicked anyone who was at hand", while Marra helped to organize the logistics of the attack. Before making Wednesday's arrests, police studied surveillance film that showed the men leaving the pub, and poured over telephone and text messages sent before and after the attack. "This was extremely serious," said police superintendent Fulvio Della Rocca. "Rome is a hospitable city and cannot go on international news for these events". Police said two of the arrested men are "ultra" fans of the Lazio football club. An AS Roma fan had previously been arrested, supporting the hypothesis that the raid was carried out by fans of more than one team. Anti-Semitism was cited as one of the possible motives behind the attack as one day later, some Lazio fans aimed anti-Semitic chants at Tottenham Hotspur supporters and displayed a pro-Palestinian banner during a Europa League match. Tottenham, or Spurs, are traditionally considered to have a strong Jewish element in their fan base and followers continue to be proud of this.

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