Two Birkirkara FC supporters charged with violence at football stadium

Two Birkirkara FC supporters have been released on bail after being charged with violent incidents at the Tony Bezzina stadium in Paola on Sunday.

Violence erupted after Birkirkara lost 2-0 to Santa Lucia in a Premier League game.

Kerstin Falzon, 21, and Jake Attard, 19, both from Birkirkara, were arrested Tuesday in front of magistrate Monica Vella, accused of assaulting a police officer and using offensive language while they entered the stadium.

Falzon alone has also been charged with damaging a camera operated by the police and committing an offense while on bail.

Prosecuting Police Inspector Paul Camilleri told the court a number of supporters had been implicated in unrest in the stadium’s VIP area. Police had entered and extracted the instigator of the unrest, a member of the Birkirkara FC committee who was not named in court.

Several supporters had strongly opposed the police action, he said.

At one point, an officer had gone to move supporters, who were mocking rival supporters, of the Perspex. He explained that no one is allowed to leave their seat at the football stadium.

“At one point a group of ‘ultras’ approached and expected the police not to withdraw these supporters. Within seconds, the officer was surrounded by six men and called for reinforcements. The RIU arrived at the scene shortly after, he said. The footage clearly showed that both defendants were involved.

Lawyer Richard Sladden, appearing for Attard with lawyer Franco Debono, has requested bail. Lawyers argued that Jake Attard was not seen assaulting police, insulted no one and held no one against his will in the footage.

Sladden told the magistrate his client had gone up to the Perspex to save his 17-year-old brother.

Debono added that the accused had a clean criminal record. He argued that it was natural for the accused to want to help his younger brother. It was a momentary thing, he said, pointing out that the man had no criminal record.

The inspector opposed the bail, arguing that the incident should not have happened in the first place, as the accused should not have left his seat. “Jake was the first to step up to the VIP gate and his brother joined him in insulting rival supporters.”

The prosecutor confirmed that there was no fear that the accused would tamper with evidence or run away.

Debono argued that it was “a football field after all”. “No violence is ever acceptable but everyone knows the atmosphere, not only in Malta but everywhere.”

Lawyer Noel Bianco, for Kersten Falzon, argued that his client had gone to help his 17-year-old friend and had cooperated with the police.

Falzon, who was already out on bail for another offense, had broken his leg at the stadium after getting stuck between two seats.

Inspector Camilleri said Falzon punched a police officer in the abdomen as the latter tried to calm the situation.

The two young people were released on bail against a deposit of € 1,000 and a personal deposit of € 3,000, and were also ordered to sign a deposit book once a week. A protection order was issued in favor of the police officer who was assaulted.

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