Partizan Belgrade fan charged over flare throwing incident during Ħamrun game

He was accused igniting and throwing a flare during the Uefa Conference League match between Ħamrun Spartans and Partizan Belgrade

Ħamrun held Partizan Belgrade at a 3-3 draw on Thursday (Photo: MFA)
Ħamrun held Partizan Belgrade at a 3-3 draw on Thursday (Photo: MFA)

A Partizan Belgrade football fan has denied throwing a flare on the pitch during his team's football match against Ħamrun Spartans on Thursday.

Inspectors Sarah Zerafa and Matthew Attard arraigned Serbian national Damir Andrijevic, 34, residing in St. Julians before magistrate Noel Bartolo on Friday afternoon.

Andrijevic was accused of igniting and throwing a flare during the Uefa Conference League match between Ħamrun Spartans and Partizan Belgrade at Ta’ Qali national stadium. Police had identified the accused as having held a lit flare and throwing it onto the pitch.

Inspector Zerafa told the court that the Partizan fan had tried to escape from the police officers who approached him, by pretending to have to retrieve some belongings and then melting back into the crowd. The police decided that it was better to apprehend him after the game. When officers approached, he had run away and was chased before being taken into custody.

Asked what he would be replying to the charges, the accused, who was assisted by two interpreters, pleaded guilty.

But when asked to confirm his plea, he explained to the court that he had picked up the already-ignited flare which had ended up next to him, and threw it away to avoid a more serious incident.

The court minuted that he had withdrawn his guilty plea and was pleading not guilty to the charges. 

Lawyer Leontine Calleja requested the court to grant bail to the accused. 

The prosecution objected, on the grounds that he has no ties to Malta. He had arrived in Malta in May and overstayed his three-month visa. He had not presented any official identification documents to the police, claiming to have lost them. 

He had initially not given the police any address, but had later given an address in St. Julians to a police sergeant.

The decision to arraign him had been taken precisely because of his lack of ties to Malta, said the inspector, explaining that there were other people being investigated in connection with the incident. 

Calleja argued that there were procedures for overstaying visas, and this didn't merit his continued arrest.

The court, after hearing the arguments and facts of the case, denied the man’s bail request, saying it was not satisfied that he was sufficiently trustworthy and due to the risk of him tampering with evidence.