THESSALONIKI, Greece — Seven men in northern Greece were sentenced to life in prison Wednesday after being found guilty of murder in the beating death of a 19-year-old soccer fan that shocked the country and triggered a crackdown on soccer-related violence.
Twelve defendants involved in the February 2022 attack were convicted last week in the northern city of Thessaloniki. Seven received life terms at a sentencing hearing Wednesday and the five others were ordered to serve 19 or 20 years in prison.
Alkis Kambanos died of stab wounds near his home and two others were injured after a group of men went to search for rival fans at random in an area next to a stadium used by Thessaloniki soccer club Aris.
“This is a vindication for our family but my boy is never coming back,” the dead fan’s mother, Melina Kakoulidou, told reporters outside the court after the sentences were announced.
The attackers drove to the scene of the murder in three cars, carrying knives and wooden bats. Aged between 21 and 26, the defendants were arrested after police traced one of the cars used in the attack.
The murder led to numerous initiatives opposing fan violence in Greek cities, including several backed by Thessaloniki's two main rival clubs, Aris and PAOK, including charity matches.
Supporters' clubs voluntarily limited attendance at games on the road in the wake of the attack, while police raided dozens of supporters' clubs, some of which had been suspected in the past of being used to organize attacks.
“There were twelve men who were armed and filled with hatred. They attacked unarmed people. The sentences they received were not excessive, they were fair,” Yiannis Poultsidis, a lawyer for the victim's family said.
Aristidis Kambanos, the victim's father, described the harrowing experience of facing the defendants during the six-month trial.
“There were many difficult moments during the trial, especially listening to the testimony from the medical examiners,” he said. “We were not seeking the annihilation of Alkis’ killers. A crime was committed, and they were punished.”