Five fans of Dinamo Zagreb Football Club have been given conditional sentences of six years in prison with two years' probation for insulting and inciting to violence against Serb women and children last year, while a sixth defendant was sentenced to community service, Zagreb Municipal Criminal Court ruled on Friday.
The defendants plead guilty and expressed remorse for public incitement of hatred and violence.
They said in their defence that they had volunteered in Zagreb and the Banovina region after last year’s earthquakes, which the court took as a mitigating circumstance.
“The court has taken into account the fact that the defendants volunteered to helped earthquake victims in Banovina, including members of the Serb community, which indicated that the crime in question was an ill-advised excess rather than a pattern of their behaviour,” the court said.
The defendants, aged between 20 and 22, were each ordered to pay HRK 500 (€67) in court costs.
According to the indictment, they gathered together with several unknown persons in the Kustosija neighbourhood of west Zagreb around 9 pm on 11 June 2020 and displayed a banner that in its content and form incited to violence and hatred towards the Serb minority.
A photograph posted on social media at the time showed them with a banner saying “We will f*** Serb women and children”. The banner also featured the letter U, a reference to the pro-Nazi Ustasha puppet regime that ruled Croatia during the Second World War.
The photograph was posted by the Serb National Council, and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic condemned the incident on the same day.