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Real Madrid's Luka Modric facing perjury probe in Croatian court

Luka Modric
Luka Modric has been branded a villain in Croatia after his testimony in a tax fraud case.

ZAGREB, Croatia -- Croatian prosecutors launched an investigation into suspected perjury against Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric on Monday for his testimony about his financial deals with a former Dinamo Zagreb director charged with embezzlement and tax fraud.

The prosecutors in the eastern town of Osijek said Modric gave a false statement to a court earlier this month about his 2008 transfer from Dinamo to Tottenham. He moved to Real Madrid in 2012.

The 31-year-old Modric told the court he had a deal with former Dinamo director Zdravko Mamic to pay the club 50 percent of the €21 million ($23m) contract. Mamic supposedly took an unspecified chunk.

Prosecutors claim there was no legal contract between Modric and Mamic and that their private deal was backdated after the player had already been sold to the London club.

If charged and found guilty, Modric could face up to five years in prison.

After his testimony, Modric -- once a captain of Croatia's national team -- has been publicly branded a villain.

Prosecutors accuse Mamic, his brother and two others of embezzling €15m of the club's money since 2008 on different player transfer deals from Dinamo to foreign clubs, and not paying €1.6m in taxes.

Mamic is considered the most powerful person in Croatian soccer with substantial political influence. The country has a strong national team but struggles at club level. There are also perennial problems with hooliganism.

The trial is seen as a test of Croatian judiciary in the face of widespread corruption.

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