Teen confesses setting off flare that killed boy

A 17-year-old Corinthians fan has confessed that he set off a

flare that killed a 14-year-old Bolivian boy in a Copa Libertadores

match last week.

The teenager, whose name was not disclosed, turned himself in to

Brazilian police Monday, a day after he confessed to a Brazilian

television channel with his mother by his side.

His confession came as 12 Corinthians fans remained in custody

in Bolivia after being arrested following last Wednesday’s match.

The South American federation was also expected to rule on the

team’s appeal against the punishment of having to play its

remaining home games in the tournament in an empty stadium.

On Sunday, Corinthians fans held up a banner honoring the

Bolivian boy during a match in the Sao Paulo state

championship.

Wearing a jersey of the team’s biggest fan group, the teen said

in his interview that he was not deliberately aiming the device at

the Bolivian fans when it allegedly went off accidentally, hitting

Kevin Beltran Espada in the face and killing him.

”When I first pulled the cord to set it off nothing happened. I

didn’t know how to handle it,” he told Globo TV. ”When I pulled

it again it just went off. I wasn’t aiming it; I didn’t know it was

going to take off like that.”

With his face not shown because of his age, the teen apologized

and asked for forgiveness.

”When I found out what happened I just thought, `My life is

over. What am I going to do? I just killed a 14-year-old kid,”’ he

said. ”I feel like I’m the worst person in the world. I don’t know

what I’ll do with my life. I deeply regret what happened.”

As a minor, the Brazilian cannot be extradited to Bolivia to

face charges for the crime. He may just end up facing community

service in Brazil.

”A judge will likely give him a social-educational sentence in

this first moment,” said Ricardo Cabral, the lawyer representing

the teen.

The teen was with Cabral and his mother when he turned himself

in as dozens of photographers and journalists waited outside the

police station. He was expected be released after talking to

authorities.

The teen may later face up to three years in a juvenile

detention center.

Two of the 12 fans in Bolivia have been formally accused of

setting off the flare that killed Espada, while the others are

being held as accomplices.

The Brazilian teen said that he didn’t know the flare had killed

the boy until after the match and decided not to turn himself in to

Bolivian police after talking to other members of the group.

”I was scared at the time. I didn’t know what to do,” he said.

”I thought the other guys would be released right away.”

He dismissed the notion that he was confessing just to protect

those detained in Bolivia, knowing that as a minor he didn’t face

extradition or a harsher punishment.

”It’s just not right for people to pay for what they didn’t

do,” he said. ”If I was in their position, I also wouldn’t want

to pay for something I didn’t do.”

The teen’s lawyer said that all the flares seized by Bolivian

police from the fans were bought by his client.

”He left them there in a backpack after the police arrived,”

Cabral said.

The South American soccer federation last week said Corinthians,

the defending Copa Libertadores champion, will play without its

fans for the next 60 days because of what happened in Bolivia.

The team, which had already sold more than 80,000 tickets for

its group stage matches, has appealed, and another decision by the

federation was expected later Monday.

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