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Sports

Thousands demonstrate in Corsica to support injured football fan

media Corsican nationalist leaders Gilles Simeoni and Jean-Guy Talamoni after winning regional elections in December AFP

Several thousand people demonstrated in Bastia on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica on Saturday, accusing police of seriously injuring a football fan in clashes after a match in the north-eastern French city of Reims. There were appeals for calm, after a number of protests that have been followed by pitched battles between youths and police since the incident on 13 February.

The protesters - many of them Bastia fans and students - marched behind a banner declaring "Ghustizia per Maxime" ("Justice for Maxime" in the Corsican language).

They chanted slogans in support of Maxime Beux, who was injured after Reims-SC Bastia match, and Rémi DI Caro, who was jailed for five months, with a further five suspended, after a demonstration that turned violent on Tuesday evening in Corte, the town that is home to the island's university.

Local officials said that police found home-made explosive devices - reportedly bowling balls filled with explosives - near government offices.

Beux claims to have been injured by a flashball fired by police, whom he has accused of setting an ambush.

Public prosecutors say he appears to have fallen on a post while running away from police but an investigation has been launched.

Seven other fans, who are to appear in court in Reims on 22 March, have filed legal complaints alleging "wilful violence".

The Reims incidents have sparked resentment against police mixed with nationalist sentiment and several protests in Bastia and Corte have ended in clashes between protesters and police, although no injuries have been reported.

Beux, who returned to Corsica on Saturday, appealed for "serenity, dignity and calm", as did the nationalist president of the Corsican regional assembly, Jean-Guy Talamoni, while another nationalist leader, Gilles Simeoni, called for an end to "this logic of confrontation".

 

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