Serbia football fans jailed for 2009 Brice Taton murder

Serbian police officers guard the entrance of Belgrade's High court on 25 January 2011.
Image caption The verdict was announced amid tight security at the Belgrade court

A Serbian court has jailed 14 football hooligans for up to 35 years for the 2009 murder of a French fan in the capital, Belgrade.

Brice Taton, 28, was attacked in a bar ahead of a Europa League match between Partizan Belgrade and Toulouse.

The longest prison sentences - 35 and 32 years - were imposed in absentia on two ringleaders who remain at large­.

Two men were given 30-year prison terms. The other defendants received 12 to 14-year sentences.

Mr Taton sustained head and chest injuries when French fans were attacked in the central Belgrade bar by a 30-strong group of men armed with iron bars and baseball bats in September 2009.

He died 12 days later. Two other French fans were injured in the attack.

"All of the defendants were aware that those acts constituted ruthless violent behaviour," Belgrade high court judge Mirjana Ilic told the court as she read the sentences on Tuesday.

The highest were handed down against Djordje Prelic and Dejan Puzigaca - who were described as the organisers of the attack and are still on the run.

The men sentenced to 30 years were named as Ivan Grkovic and Ljubomir Markovic.

Police were deployed in large numbers both inside and outside the court.

Correspondents say football violence has been rife in Serbia in the past 20 years.

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