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Dec 4, 2013

Ante Sapina match-fixing retrial begins

The retrial of Ante Sapina, found guilty and sentenced to more than five years in prison in 2011 for heading an operation to fix football matches, has begun at Bochum district court in Germany.

Then, 37-year-old Croatian-German Sapina had confessed to manipulating more than 20 games, including a 2010 World Cup qualifier between Liechtenstein and Finland as well as a Champions League qualifier between Debrecen and Fiorentina, by bribing players and match officials.

But in late 2012, Germany's Federal Court of Justice ordered a retrial following appeals by Sapina's lawyer.

The court ruled that Sapina's confession might not have had a full effect on mitigation, and also that it had not been clarified whether what he had done was fraud or attempted fraud.

His co-defendant, Marijo Cvrtak, is also awaiting a retrial. The two were among six men charged with manipulating matches across Europe, and earned more than 2.3 million euros each by betting on fixed games.

The court in Bochum will reopen the case and decide upon the length of Sapina's sentence.

German news service dpa reported that the court would rule on a defence argument that the sentence was too harsh because 28 incidents of match manipulation involving Asian betting operations failed, meaning no one suffered financial losses.

The prosecution, however, wants claims that Sapina was a leading member of an international criminal organisation to be investigated, which could result in an increased sentence.

A verdict in the case is expected in late January.

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