“Further to the incident at the basketball arena on Tuesday 31st July leading to the arrest and subsequent charging of a 36 year old Lithuanian basketball fan on the grounds of racially aggravated abuse the official supporters of the national basketball team of Lithuania from their London base ‘The Queens Head Stratford’, say the following: ‘We wish to make it totally and abundantly clear to the British public, LOCOG, IOC and sport fans all over the world, that we strongly condemn outright all forms of racism or discrimination based on colour, race, sexual orientation or religion.
Basketball is the national sport of Lithuania, it has become part of this tiny nation’s psyche and culture and it has strong loyal and a huge number passionate supporters who follow the team the world over.
Historically Lithuania has suffered at the hands of brutal and fascist regimes in the form of both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union and its people fully understand the horrific pain and physiological and lasting damage of ethnic discrimination.
The incident on Tuesday in which one of the basketball teams travelling supporters was arrested was totally regrettable and has sent shock waves throughout the tiny nation with its people in total disbelief at such an accusation being levelled at one of its own.
However, the gesture and chanting of this fan and all others was totally misunderstood and misinterpreted by the undercover police officers who made the arrest.
The gesture in question ,the raising of one or two hands up after clapping in this manner’ is a gesture commonly used in Lithuania at sporting events and is in no way meant to represent the ‘Nazi salute’ indeed the very thought of it doing so is totally abhorrent to the Lithuanian supporters.
The 36 year old fan in question is going to vigorously deny the charges and will be lodging a strong defence. In fact the police have now mislaid or lost all together his personal belongings including ID, credit cards, cash, a mobile phone and therefore it is considering legal proceedings against them in due course.
Finally and in conclusion when he tried to attend today’s basketball game against France he was expelled – what has happened to the very basic tennent of British justice?
‘Innocent until proven guilty’!!!”
2nd of August 2012