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Expert says it is a ‘wonder’ that Euro hooligan victim is still alive

A medical expert who examined an English victim of a hooligan attack during the 2016 Euros told a court in France on Thursday that it was a “wonder how this gentleman is still alive”.

Two Russians, Pavel Kossov and Mikhail Ivkine, both 34, are accused of beating 55-year-old Andrew Bache, who suffered brain injuries in the violence that broke out before England played Russia in the southern French port city of Marseille on June 11, 2016.

Giving evidence, Michel Blanc, who examined the victim in June 2018, two years after the events, said Bache had suffered “irreversible disorders”.

He said the victim had a “major encephalic trauma” with multiple cranial fractures and a cerebral haemorrhage.

“The damage that I observed is in line with a fall from eight metres high,” Blanc told the court of Bouches-du-Rhone via videoconference.

“His handicap, when he will be definitively assessed, cannot be less than 60 percent.”

Bache, from Portsmouth in southern England, has no memory of the events and is too frail to attend the trial. 

His son Harry, however, who returned from his home in Australia to nurse his father, is representing him in court.

Blanc, however, insisted that the punch delivered by Kossov to the back of Bache’s head “cannot cause a fracture of the skull” like the one he observed “with a major cerebral haemorrhage”.

“It may have caused a brain disconnect in the victim, like a knockout in boxing, a short circuit,” said Blanc, which would explain why Bache fell forward, like a rag doll, without even protecting his face.

“But this first punch is not enough to explain all of the injuries.” 

Ivkine, the second Spartak Moscow supporter in the dock, did not hit Bache. In video footage of the incident, he is only seen throwing a chair towards the victim, which barely grazes him. 

Questions remain over the involvement of a third aggressor, a young man in khaki Bermuda shorts and a light T-shirt, who is seen delivering a savage punch to the victim while he was lying inanimate on the ground.

However, the attacker’s face was hidden by a surgical mask and he has never been identified or arrested. 

Bache’s counsel Olivier Rosato asked if the injuries might be explained by a punch from the third man, especially if he was using a knuckleduster. 

“If there is an ‘armed punch’, then that is a different matter,” said Blanc.

Kossov and Ivkine face a jail sentence of up to 15 years if found guilty in the trial that runs until Friday.

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