Croatia fans burn EU flag before Euro 2012 match

Croatian soccer fans burned a European Union flag and paraded

around with posters of a convicted war criminal before their team

faces Italy at the European Championship on Thursday.

Several thousand Croatian supporters crowded into an area around

Poznan’s main old town square, drinking and singing before the

Group C game in the evening. Some men were bare chested despite

chilly weather, displaying tattoos of nationalist symbols.

They taunted a smaller number of Italian fans with an inflatable

sex doll wearing an Italian team shirt, and set off flares.

There were also banners on display, some with designs evoking

the fascist ”Ustasa” movement, which governed Croatia as a Nazi

protectorate from 1941-44. Some people also carried pictures of

Ante Gotovina, a former general convicted by the U.N. war crimes

tribunal at The Hague. Gotovina is an icon of the far-right in

Croatia.

Police, some in riot gear, monitored the situation, but did not

intervene.

In 2011, a Hague tribunal sentenced Gotovina to 24 years in

prison for his role in a 1995 military offensive intended to drive

Serb rebels out of land they had occupied for years along Croatia’s

southern border with Bosnia.