Martha Kelner on 22 February 2018
A Russian man has been arrested on suspicion of causing serious injuries to an English football fan who was left in a coma after riots which blighted Euro 2016.
The 31-year-old was arrested at a German airport while in transit to Spain to watch Spartak Moscow play Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League. He faces up to 15 years in jail in France for attempted homicide and grievous bodily harm.
The alleged victim is understood by the Guardian to be Andrew Bache, a Portsmouth resident who was 51 when he was among those attacked during the tournament two years ago. Bache, affectionately known as the “Pepe of Pompey”, sustained severe brain injuries and had to be placed in an induced coma, from which he has only recently emerged. He was left bloodied on a pavement and fighting for his life when clashes broke out between fans before England’s opening game in Marseille. He has no recollection of the attack and now lives in a self-contained flat where he is relearning how to do household chores.
German federal police said the Russian suspect was identified after a joint investigation with British police over almost 18 months and had been the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by French authorities last year. Bache’s brother Dean began a crowdfunding campaign in the aftermath of the attack which raised more than £13,000 to contribute to private medical treatment.
In a newspaper interview this month Dean said: “Andy is doing well. He’s moved into his own flat within the grounds of his rehab unit. He’s watching the football and rugby and his mates have said they’ll take him back down to watch Pompey as and when he’s ready. He’s getting his life back.”
The German prosecutor Joachim Ettenhofer told Reuters news agency that the Russian suspect could be extradited from Germany to France in two weeks’ time.
“These things usually go pretty quickly,” he said.
France jailed Russia and England fans in the immediate aftermath of the Euro 2016 violence, and deported more than 20 others.