Ex-soccer boss sentenced in Croatia after corruption trial

OSIJEK, Croatia (AP) Former Dinamo Zagreb director Zdravko Mamic was sentenced Wednesday to 6 1/2 years in prison for embezzlement and tax evasion over deals that included the sale of Croatia World Cup stars Luka Modric and Dejan Lovren.

Mamic, 58, was not in court in the eastern town of Osijek when judges read the verdict and sentence. He left for neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina a day ahead of the court session and described the verdict as ”monstrous.”

The court issued an arrest warrant for Mamic, who said he is not returning before the end of the appeals process.

Mamic has been an influential and often outspoken figure in Croatian soccer and politics. He was accused with three other former officials of embezzling 15 million euros ($17.6 million) through fictitious deals made during transfers of several former Dinamo players to foreign clubs, including Real Madrid midfielder Modric and Liverpool defender Lovren.

Modric, who will lead Croatia at the upcoming World Cup in Russia, faces perjury charges for testimony he gave during the trial about his financial deals with Mamic. Prosecutors claimed Modric gave a false court statement in June last year about his 2008 transfer from Dinamo to Tottenham. Modric has denied any wrongdoing.

The court on Wednesday also found Mamic guilty of tax evasion worth 1.6 million euros.

His brother Zoran, a former Dinamo coach, was sentenced to 4 years, 11 months in prison.

”I never dreamed I would be sentenced for a day,” Mamic said in a video call from Bosnia, threatening to retaliate against ”people who staged all this against me.”

”Those monsters will end up where they belong, and I will get some rest,” he said.

Mamic has Croatian and Bosnian citizenship.