İstanbul prosecutor demands 13 years for Fener chairman
Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım is the highest profile figure taken into custody as part of the match-fixing investigation. (Photo: Today's Zaman)
An İstanbul prosecutor has initially demanded 39 years and nine months for Fenerbahçe chairman Aziz Yıldırım, accusing him of rigging matches and establishing a criminal organization but a new match-fixing law reduced Yıldırım's proposed sentence to 13 years, 10 months and 15 days.
Specially authorized İstanbul Public Prosecutor Ufuk Ermertcan demanded from the İstanbul 16th High Criminal Court on Friday to hand down jail sentences for Yıldırım and other suspects as part of an investigation into match-fixing scandal that has rocked Turkish football since last July.
The match-fixing investigation concerns claims that several club officials and football players rigged games in the Bank Asya League 1 and the Spor Toto Super League, which ended in May of last year with Fenerbahçe winning the trophy. In July 2011 police raided homes and football club premises, detaining 60 people suspected of fixing matches in those two Turkish leagues last season.
Many high-ranking football officials from various Turkish clubs, including Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş, have been arrested on charges of fraud and match fixing. Thirty-one individuals, including agents, former football players and club managers, were arrested in two waves of the probe, with Yıldırım being the highest-profile figure taken into custody. Most of these suspects have been released, including Beşiktaş coach Tayfur Havutçu.
The prosecutor accused the Fenerbahçe chairman of nine charges of fraud, six for match-fixing and three for incentive payment, or bribing the opposing team. Yıldırım is also accused by the prosecutor of setting up a gang for the purposed of unlawful economic profit. The prosecutor has demanded between 15 and 39 years nine months for Yıldırım for the felonies.
The prosecutor said Yıldırım fixed Gençlerbirliği- Fenerbahçe, Karabük-Fenerbahçe, Eskişehir-Fenerbahçe, Trabzon- Fenerbahçe, Fenerbahçe- Ankaragücü, Fenerbahçe-İBB matches and made incentive payments in Trabzon-Bursaspor, Trabzonspor- İBB and Eskişehir -Trabzonspor matches.
A total of 14 players stand accused. Eight teams have been mentioned in connection with match-fixing or incentive payment: Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş, Mersin İdman Yurdu, Manisaspor, Trabzonspor, Sivasspor, Giresunspor and İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor.
93 defendants are being tried in the case that has cast a shadow over the Turkey’s half a billion dollar league.
The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) earlier referred 16 clubs to the Professional Football Discipline Committee (PFDK), a disciplinary body that is also part of the TFF, in relation to 22 league matches played last year.
Disciplinary board members announced their final decision on the match-fixing allegations earlier this month. No club has been given a collective punishment and Yıldırım, who is still behind bars as primary suspect in match-fixing case, was also not penalized. However, several Fenerbahçe administrators have been prohibited from participating in football matches.
The prosecutor demanded 10.5 years for Bülent Uygun, who is currently coach of top division newcomer Elazığspor, accuding him of being a member of a criminal organization, fixing Eskişehirspor-Fenerbahçe, Sivasspor-Fenerbahçe matches and making incentive payment in Eskişehirspor-Trabzonspor matches.
Uygun said earlier this week that he believes the incentive attempt came from Trabzonspor, which had been racing against Fenerbahçe to win the Spor Toto Super League title that season, in an attempt to further motivate Eskişehirspor players to defeat Fenerbahçe. He said the incentive amounted to TL 1 million.
Uygun, who was released in February pending trial, rejected the charges against him of involvement in match-fixing activities.
The prosecutor demanded Trabzonspor Chairman Sadri Şener to be punished for his role in making incentive payment in Sivasspor-Fenerbahçe match.
Yıldırım said eariler this week during a court hearing that Şener had phone conversations regarding the transfer of players, and that Şener is not jailed even though those dialogues took place while he still remains in prison. Yıldırım also said he helped Şener win a tender, the current value of which is TL 92 million, in 1995 without demanding a single kuruş, but he faces several charges for giving money to Manisaspor Chairman Kenan Yaralı.
He also claimed that Trabzonspor is involved in dialogue with political parties, including the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and opposition parties, the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Former Giresunspor Chairman Olgun Peker is also accused of forming an organized crime gang.
The prosecutor asked to exonarate TFF Deputy Chairman Göksel Gümüşdağ who was accused of fixing İBB-Fenerbahçe match and being a member of a criminal organization.
The prosecutor also asked court to separate former Fenerbahçe player Emenike’s file as he didn’t show up during his defense.
Beşiktaş player İbrahim Akın is accused of match-fixing in Fenerbahçe-İBB, Beşiktaş-İBB matches and making incentive payments in Trabzonspor-İBB match. The prosecutor demanded 7.5 years for him.
Beşiktaş official Serdar Adalı will be given 4.5 years for match-fixing fraud if court accepts the demand of the prosecutor.
Another player, Ümit Karan, is accused of match-fixing in Eskişehirspor-Fenerbahçe and incentive payment in Eskişehirspor-Trabzonspor match. He will be given 4.5 years of jail term if he is found guilty.
The prosecutor asked the court to give 3 years of sentence to Beşiktaş coach Tayfur Havutçu for match-fixing fraud in Beşiktaş-İBB match.
The prosecutor asked Eskişehir midfielder Sezer Öztürk 1.5 years of sentence for match-fixing. The same jail term was also asked for Bursaspor striker Sercan Yıldırım for match-fixing accusations in Trabzonspor-Bursaspor match.
Sivasspor Chairman Mecnun Otyakmaz is accused of being a member of the criminal organization and of match-fixing in Sivasspor-Fenerbahçe match. The prosecutor demands 7.5 years of sentence for him.
The prosecutor also asked the court to keep the jailed suspects behind bars.
The court rejected lawyers’ request to release Yıldırım, Peker, Fenerbahçe official İlhan Ekşioğlu and Yusuf Turanlı. The court also ruled to release Ahmet Çelebi, Ali Kıratlı, Haldun Şenman, Sami Dinç and İbrahim Bülent İşcen pending trial. The court hearings will be resumed on June 26.