Three jailed in football match-fixing trial
Three members of a football betting ring have been given prison terms for their involvement in what officials have described as Europe's biggest match-fixing scandal.
The defendants admitted to betting on matches which had allegedly been fixed, and to have bribed players. They were charged in relation to 18 games up to Europa League level.
The longest sentence of 3 years 11 months was handed to a betting shop operator identified by the court only as Stevan R.
A gambler identified as Tuna A. received a three year, eight month sentence, while another shop operator was sentenced to three years.
Both betting shop operators developed contacts with football players who became clients.
''Manipulative relationships developed later from these contacts,'' Judge Carsten Schwadrat said.
However, it was not established beyond reasonable doubt whether matches were actually manipulated, nor was it clear whether players who accepted money were influenced by the payments.
According to the verdict, all three defendants were involved in the scheme for years.
Seven more defendants are waiting to be sentenced, including Ante Sapina, convicted as the mastermind of a match-fixing ring in Germany in 2005 and sentenced to 35 months in prison.
He was released early and told the court he resumed betting large sums on manipulated games shortly after the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Sapina's sentence is expected in the first half of May.
The Bochum prosecutor said almost 300 suspects still need to be investigated, and further charges are expected.