Soccer referee dies after assault by player in suburban Detroit


(Reuters) - A soccer referee who was punched in the head by a player during a weekend game in a Detroit suburb has died, police said on Tuesday.

John Bieniewicz, 44, was about to eject a player from a recreational game at a park in Livonia, Michigan, on Sunday when he was hit and critically injured, police said.

Bieniewicz, who was a resident of Westland, a suburb next to Livonia, died Tuesday morning at Detroit Medical Center, Livonia police said. They released no other details.

Bassel Abdul-Amir Saad, 36, was charged on Monday with assault with intent to do great bodily harm by Wayne County prosecutors. His bond was set at $500,000 in a court appearance on Monday. A preliminary examination was set for July 10.

The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said Tuesday the charges will be reviewed and amended when appropriate confirmations are made and documents received. Police said several people saw the player throw the punch during the game.

"It's a very tragic incident," attorney Brian Berry, who represents the defendant, said on Tuesday.

Berry said he expected a change in the charges. He also said, based on interviews that have not been published, that there are questions about the circumstances.

"When the facts come out, we will learn that this is not a retaliation for being ejected from the game," Berry said. "There are questions as to the causation of Mr. Bieniewicz's injuries."

Berry said he was reluctant to provide other information before the preliminary examination.

(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Bill Trott)

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