Sailors from visiting warship fined for setting off flares at Ta' Qali football match

Six Dutch Navy sailors from a visiting warship  fined for setting off hand-held smoke flares during a football match at the Ta' Qali national stadium yesterday evening

Credit: Birkirkara Ultras Facebook page
Credit: Birkirkara Ultras Facebook page

Six Dutch Navy sailors from a visiting warship have been fined for setting off hand held smoke flares during a football match at the Ta Qali national stadium yesterday evening.

Thomas Claasen, 25, Dario Antonio Pool, 20, Maikel Baars, 32, Antonios Tsirkoudis Tempel, 27, Saverio De Greef, 23 and Panayotis Mihoglu, 52, all of whom are deployed on board the Royal Netherlands Navy’s Frigate Zr.Ms. De Zeven Provinciën, which is currently on a port call in the Grand Harbour, were arraigned before magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech on Wednesday morning.

The Navy personnel are believed to have been celebrating the result of an international friendly match between the Austria vs Netherlands women's teams. The Netherlands team won the match 4-nil.

Inspector Ritienne Gauci charged the men with having discharged the pyrotechnics in question: coloured smoke and Bengal lights, without a licence, behaving abusively inside a sports ground and conducting themselves in a manner which constitutes a breach of the public peace.

Inspector Gauci exhibited a copy of footage of the incident from the football ground.

The first offence is punishable by a fine of up to €350, the second by a fine of up to €200, said the magistrate.

The men pleaded guilty.  

Addressing the defendants, the magistrate informed them of the punishment they were liable to receive, giving them the opportunity to change their plea. 

The men confirmed their admissions of guilt.

In his submissions on punishment, defence lawyer Daniel Buttigieg suggested a fine, arguing that the incident was not serious.

The court agreed, ruling that there did not appear to be malice in the men’s actions. In its considerations on punishment, the court added that it understood that these practices appeared to be allowed in the Netherlands, but said that this was not so in Malta.

The court fined the men €400 each and banned them from entering any sportsground in Malta for the period of one year.