Europe news

German court reopens match-fixing case

December 21, 2012
By Stephan Uersfeld, Germany Correspondent

The Federal Court of Justice of Germany has ordered a retrial for the case of one of Europe's biggest betting scandals after reversing a 2011 verdict.

Ante Sapina photos
GettyImagesLast year's conviction was not the first time Ante Sapina had been found guilty of match-fixing offences

Defendants Ante Sapina and Marijo C were convicted of fraud by a Bochum court and sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison having confessed to manipulating more than 20 football matches, including a meaningless 2010 World Cup qualifier between Liechtenstein and Finland and a Champions League qualifier between Hungarian side Debrecen and Italian club Fiorentina.

Both the prosecution and Sapina's lawyer appealed and the Federal Court has overturned the original verdict, commenting that Sapina's confession might not have had a full effect on mitigation and also that it had to be clarified if it was attempted fraud or fraud.

"There have been mistakes in favour and to the disadvantage of the defendant," chief prosecutor Peter Ernst explained. "I believe the new verdict will be similar to the first verdict."

Michael Ried, co-defendant Marijo C's lawyer also believed there will be no surprise, saying; "Most probably the conviction will not change."

In 2005, Sapina, at that time operating out of Berlin bar Café King, had already been convicted to serve time in prison for a similar match-fixing case involving German referees. Upon his release he turned towards the Asian betting market, placing bets through a London-based bookmaker.