A German court has reduced the sentence of a soccer match-fixer by six months following a retrial. Ante Sapina, who has admitted fixing dozens of matches, now faces five years behind bars.
The court in the western German city of Bochum was forced to put the 38-year-old Sapina on trial for a second time, after his defense lawyers successfully appealed his May 2011 conviction and jail sentence of five and a half years for manipulating soccer matches across Europe. Germany's top appeals court quashed part of his original conviction and referred the case back to Bochum.
Sapina, a Croatian national who resides in Berlin, was among six men charged with fixing matches across Europe. Sapina and an accomplice each confessed to bribing players, referees and soccer functionaries to fix matches. Sapina said they had each earned more than 2.3 million euros ($3.28 million) by placing bets on the fixed matches, mainly in Asian establishments. A total of 51 matches were reportedly manipulated, including some in the European Champions League and World Cup qualifying.
In Monday's ruling, presiding Judge Carsten Schwadrat said the court had decided to reduce Sapina's sentence by six months due to his testimony in which he helped shed light on previously unknown details about match-fixing.
At the same time, though, Judge Schwadrat noted that Sapina was a repeat offender, having been sentenced to two years and 11 months in 2005 for his part in a similar match-fixing scandal, in which former Bundesliga referee Robert Hoyzer was also involved.
Neither the defense, nor the prosecution, which had asked for a seven-year sentence, has said whether they intend to appeal Monday's ruling.
pfd/jr (dpa, SID)