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Legia Warsaw fans bailed by court as police continue inquiry into major disorder

Police attempt to put out flares thrown towards them outside the stadium before the Uefa Europa Conference League Group E match at Villa Park, Birmingham (David Davies/PA)
Police attempt to put out flares thrown towards them outside the stadium before the Uefa Europa Conference League Group E match at Villa Park, Birmingham (David Davies/PA)

A special court session has begun to deal with 45 Legia Warsaw supporters charged after violent disorder which saw police officers pelted with missiles outside Villa Park before a Europa Conference League match.

A district judge and several magistrates, sitting at Birmingham Crown Court, granted conditional bail to almost 30 of the defendants on Saturday, including a 22-year-old woman from Poland who pleaded not guilty to violent disorder.

The female defendant and the majority of more than 40 men arrested by West Midlands Police were charged with violent disorder after missiles, including flares, were thrown towards police at and near a coach park on Thursday.

Aston Villa v Legia Warsaw – UEFA Europa Conference League – Group E – Villa Park
Empty seats in the away section during the match at Villa Park (David Davies/PA)

One of the numerous court hearings held on Saturday, dealing with between one and five defendants in turn, was told “egregious, sustained and horrific” violence, beginning shortly before 6pm and extending until 8pm, saw bricks, bottles and a portable toilet thrown at police.

It is also alleged that a police van was subjected to an attempt to set it on fire, while a flare and a lit flag were allegedly used to cause injuries to two officers.

Police said a total of five officers, two police dogs and two police horses were injured after violence erupted when visiting supporters were not given tickets, as previously arranged, to enter Villa Park.

Among two supporters charged with attacking police officers was Darius Buras, who denied a count of assaulting multiple emergency workers and a separate charge of violent disorder.

Buras, of Erdington, Birmingham, was granted conditional bail.

The 57-year-old and the other defendants dealt with on Saturday were all ordered to reappear at Birmingham Crown Court on January 5.

The court heard that the second defendant charged with assault, who is from Poland, is not accused of taking part in the violent disorder near Villa Park, having been arrested at a pub near Aston University.

Aston Villa v Legia Warsaw – UEFA Europa Conference League – Group E – Villa Park
Police attempt to put out flares thrown towards them on Thursday night (David Davies/PA)

Officers are continuing to review CCTV and body-worn video footage to identify further suspects after “what was an appalling and violent public disorder”.

Detective Superintendent Jim Munro, who is overseeing the criminal investigation, said: “Our investigation is very much continuing and we’ll be reviewing footage and speaking to witnesses over the coming days.

“To charge this number of people so soon after such a major disorder has taken a huge effort by staff who have been working around the clock.

“We’ve had a number of messages of thanks from the club and fans who were present on Thursday night and saw the policing operation first hand, and we are really grateful for that support.”

Another Legia fan charged with possessing a knife has been bailed to appear before court at a later date.