Real Zaragoza match-fixing case: 41 people cleared including Leganes boss Javier Aguirre
A Spanish court has on Monday cleared 41 people, including Leganes coach Javier Aguirre, and Second Division side Real Zaragoza of match-fixing charges in a Liga fixture between Levante and Real Zaragoza in 2011.
A total of 41 people, including 36 current and former players, had faced punishments ranging from 24-month to four-year prison sentences and €3.4 million fines each if found guilty of sports corruption.
The judge ruled there was insufficient evidence of that crime. However, former Zaragoza president, Agapito Iglesias, and ex-club financial director, Javier Porquera, have each been handed 15-month prison sentences for falsifying private documents.
According to the judge, both fraudulently justified taking out €1.73m from Real Zaragoza's accounts to pay special bonuses to their players for avoiding relegation.
After Monday's ruling, La Liga issued a statement that said: "La Liga wants to state that in this lengthy process in which it has accompanied the national police, the anti-corruption prosecutor's office and other plaintiffs, its profound respect with the court's resolution.
"La Liga will continue to battle against any possible alteration of its competitions, reporting to the relevant authorities any indication of conducts that could threaten La Liga's integrity."
Coached by Aguirre at the time, Real Zaragoza avoided relegation by beating Levante 2-1 in the final round of the 2010-11 season, a result that demoted Deportivo La Coruna. Zaragoza, via their players, were accused of paying €965,000 to Levante's players to lose.
That money was allegedly then justified as bonuses given to the Zaragoza players and their payrolls altered to that effect.
Aguirre denied any wrongdoing, but Japan's national team fired him as coach in 2015 for his ties to the investigation.
A lower court shelved the case but it was reopened last year after an appeal by prosecutors in Valencia, where the match was played. This was the first court case regarding a match-fixing investigation into a top-flight game in Spain.