ISTANBUL: As expected Fenerbahe president Aziz Yildirim and all other defendants in the Turkish matchfixing scandal have been cleared by a court in Istanbul.
Last June a retrial was ordered of the defendants including Yildirim whose blamed political pressure for a case which led, controversially, to his club being barred for two years from European competition by UEFA. Besiktas were also banned for one season.
Yildirim was first sentenced to jail in 2012 and fined $560,000 for forming a criminal gang and match-fixing during the 2010-2011 season. He served one year in prison before being freed pending the retrial.
Earlier this week Prosecutor Abdullah Mirza Coşkun demanded the acquittal of Yıldırım on charges of “founding a criminal organization” and “match-fixing.” Other charges had been laid against various officials named by the prosecutor as Tayfur Havutçu, Olgun Peker, Şekip Mosturoğlu, and Korcan Çelikay.
In a his seven-page opinion approved by Istanbul’s 13th High Criminal Court, prosecutor Coşkun demanded the acquittal of Yıldırım on charges of “founding a terrorist organization” and “match-fixing,” the acquittal of Peker on charges of “founding a criminal organization,” and the acquittal of suspects Abdullah Başak, Ahmet Çelebi and İlhan Yüksel Ekşioğlu on charges of “being a member of a criminal organization” and “match-fixing.” Coşkun also demanded the acquittal of other suspects in the case on similar charges.
The court rejected Yildirm’s demand for a retrial on the grounds that the investigation was part of a plot against the convicted suspects.
The match-fixing probe was originally launched by Zekeriya Öz, one of the prosecutors involved in the December 2013 graft investigation targeting key cabinet members. Öz has since been purged as part of government attempts to target sympathizers of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.
Yıldırım has repeatedly claimed that the match-fixing case was a politically motivated plot hatched by the Gülen movement.