Yıldırım: match-fixing probe an ‘operation’ against me, Fenerbahçe
A Fenerbahçe fan holds a banner in support of jailed Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldrım in front of the İstanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan. (Photo: Today's Zaman)
Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım on Tuesday testified in a trial concerning a match-fixing investigation in which he is implicated, arguing that the probe is an “operation” against him and Fenerbahçe.
The sixth hearing of the trial was held at the İstanbul 16th High Criminal Court on Tuesday. The Fenerbahçe chairman, detained since July, began delivering his defense during the hearing. He had earlier promised that his testimony would “shock” Turkey. Yıldırım strongly criticized the way prosecutors handled the investigation, saying the principle of presumption of innocence was violated.
He also accused police of leaking information that even his lawyer could not obtain to the press, which he said has tried to discredit him and his friends in the eyes of the public. “Aziz Yıldırım was declared guilty on TV and in newspapers even before the emergence of the indictment,” he complained.
“Nobody and no authority can refer to Fenerbahçe and Fenerbahçe fans as a criminal organization established to generate illegal profit. Nobody has the right and authority to say that. A plot was devised to stop Fenerbahçe,” he said.
Noting that the six matches in which Fenerbahçe was allegedly involved in match-fixing are not even mentioned in the indictment, Yıldırım said teams are being put on trial as well as individuals. “I fulfilled a duty as honorable as being the president of Fenerbahçe. I saw being a Fenerbahçe fan as being above everything else. What we want is justice to be served. This operation was carried out against me and Fenerbahçe,” he said.
Yıldırım also dismissed reports on Monday that he felt ill and was taken to Metris Prison's infirmary after Monday's hearing.
Furthermore, Yıldırım gave another example of attempts to discredit Fenerbahçe. “[Former Turkish Football Federation (TFF) President] Mehmet Ali Aydınlar said at the time that the league would start as planned. However, only 12 days later, he announced that it will start at a later date; there was no reason for this move. There was no indictment yet. The case was supposed to be confidential, but the media violated this. However, no one writes about the [National Intelligence Organization] MİT case as it is confidential. This is the best example of defamation of me and of Fenerbahçe.”
The Fenerbahçe chairman added that he transferred Nigerian striker Emanuel Emenike from Karabükspor and that the new transfer left the club for a Russian team as he lived in fear of his life. Emenike was also detained by police for two days in July, but was later released without charges.
Yıldırım is the highest-profile suspect in a case that concerns claims that club officials and footballers were rigging games in the Spor Toto Super League, which ended in May with Fenerbahçe winning the trophy, as well as the Bank Asya League 1. The 93 suspects implicated in the case, including 23 who have been jailed pending trial, are facing prison terms ranging between nine months and 115 years.
The reading of a 401-page indictment -- according to which Yıldırım and Giresunspor Chairman Olgun Peker stand accused of establishing and running a criminal organization to generate illegal profits, committing fraud and match fixing -- was completed last week at hearings held at the İstanbul 16th High Criminal Court in Silivri.