Seven Corinthians fans released from Bolivian jail

Rio de Janeiro, Jun 7 (IANS): Seven fans of Brazilian football club Corinthians were freed after more than three months in prison for their alleged involvement in the death of a teenage Bolivian supporter.

Their release Thursday was confirmed by Corinthians and the Brazilian embassy in Bolivia, which said authorities had decided there was a lack of evidence against the accused, reports Xinhua.

Kevin Beltran Espada, 14, died after being struck by a flare launched by a Corinthians fan during the club's Copa Libertadores match against San Jose in the Bolivian city of Oruro Feb 21.

Despite Thursday's decision, another five Corinthians fans remain detained in Oruro. Local media said prosecutors had only agreed to release those who were not inside the stadium at the time the flare was let off.

In a statement published on the club's website, Corinthians vowed to continue fighting for the freedom of the supporters still in prison.

"The happiness we feel for the liberation of the seven Brazilian citizens is not greater than the commitment the club has to ensure the other five fans have their rights respected," the statement said.

In April, Brazil's football confederation (CBF) agreed to play a friendly against Bolivia with proceeds from the match going to the family of the victim.

South American football's ruling body Conmebol originally banned Corinthians fans from attending home and away matches for the rest of the 2013 Copa Libertadores, the continent's premier club competition.

The penalty was changed in March to one home match behind closed doors, a $200,000 fine and an 18-month ban on the club's supporters for away matches.


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