A 39-year old Croat was released from custody Tuesday after four months in custody on charges related to the Bundesliga match-rigging scandal. His testimony suggests the crime ring stretches to Turkey and beyond.
Milan P. blew the whistle on a scandal that now involves Turkey
It could be the case of the one that got away. The Croat, known only as Milan P., a suspect in the German match-fixing scandal, was released from custody on Tuesday after four months detention despite being the connection between Germany's biggest sporting scandal and an international crime ring rigging soccer matches all over the continent and beyond.
The 39-year old, the proprietor of Berlins King Cafe -- the front for a betting manipulation ring that was exposed last year -- was released by the Berlin public prosecutor's office after a three and a half hour review of his case. It is believed that information he passed to investigators helped smooth his release.
Match rigging scandal with international scope
Germany and Turkey are just two countries which could be linked by the scandal
Milan P. and his brother Ante could be the connection between a spate of match fixing and referee manipulation in the German Bundesliga and a wider network of rigged betting offences.
The Croat is said to have admitted to traveling to Turkey in 2004 to bribe a midfield player and another colleague at the Turkish Super League club MKE Ankaragücü to throw a game against Galatasary Istanbul for 15,000 euros ($18,000). In the end, the fix was not completed due to the midfielder refusing the offer and the Ankara team won 1-0.
After intensive investigation, the Croat's testimony was upheld by the prosecutor's office after conclusive proof of the approach, in the form of SMS messages to his brother Ante, was revealed. Milan P.'s passport also shows that he was in Turkey at the time of the alleged meeting.
Hoyzer escapes jail time by fingering brothers
The link to Turkey is the latest international connection to the Bundesliga scandal that saw referee Robert Hoyzer stripped of his official credentials and banned for life after he admitted being involved in rigging matches in the German league. Hoyzer himself escaped a prison sentence by revealing his dealings with Ante and Milan, who have allegedly been active in Austria, England, Greece and Italy.
Milan P. was arrested at the end of January at the King Cafe in Berlin, the suspected hub of the rigging organization, along with his brother after Hoyzer named them in his testimony. The case against the two brothers had been stalled until Ante P. talked to the public prosecutors a few weeks ago.