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By ESPN Staff

German prosecutor wants Hoyzer reprieve

BERLIN, Nov 28 (Reuters) - The 2005 conviction of German referee Robert Hoyzer for match-rigging should be overturned because the deception did not break the law in a technical legal sense, a federal prosecutor said on Tuesday.

Chief state prosecutor Hartmut Schneider said at the start of an appeals hearing at federal court in Leipzig that it should acquit Hoyzer, who a year ago was found guilty of rigging games as part of a €2 million (£1.35 million) betting fraud.

The court will also hear arguments from Hoyzer's defence attorney before making any ruling. The prosecutor's unexpected plea for acquittal, citing a precedent set in a 1961 horse-betting case, makes it less likely he will go to jail.

Hoyzer, who admitted fixing matches in the biggest scandal to hit German football in more than 30 years and embarrassed Germany ahead of the World Cup, had challenged the 2005 verdict and jail sentence of two years and five months.

He was found guilty by a Berlin court of rigging games in return for payment from Ante Sapina, a Croatian ringleader. He was convicted on six counts of accessory to fraud.

Hoyzer's jail term came as a shock as prosecutors took his confession into account and only sought a suspended sentence.

The appeal by the prosecutor also increased the likelihood that Sapina will not go to jail. The 30-year-old obsessive gambler was sentenced to two years and 11 months.

In the most notorious incident, Hoyzer awarded regional league side Paderborn two penalties to help them recover from two goals down to beat first division Hamburg SV in a German Cup match. He also sent off Hamburg's Emile Mpenza.

Sapina made more than €750,000 from Paderborn's 4-2 victory, according to the indictment.

Hoyzer's overall reward was €67,000 and an expensive new television set for the nine matches he fixed or tried to fix.