Fenerbahçe chairman acquitted on all charges in match-fixing case
Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım has been acquitted on all charges in Turkey's massive match-fixing case.
An Istanbul prosecutor demanded on Oct. 5 the acquittal of high-profile suspects, including Yıldırım. The Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court issued its unanomious ruling on Oct. 9, acquitting Yıldırım, as well as other high-profile suspects, including Olgun Peker, Şekip Mosturoğlu, Cemil Turan, İlhan Ekşioğlu, Mecnun Odyakmaz, Bülent Uygun, İbrahim Akın, Ümit Karan and Gökçek Vederson.
On June 23, the court ordered a retrial of several convicted suspects, including Yıldırım, in the July 2011 match-fixing case, which shook Turkey’s football scene.
Yıldırım was first sentenced to jail in 2012 and fined 1.3 million Turkish Liras ($560,000) for forming a criminal gang and match-fixing during the 2010-2011 season. He served around one year behind bars before being freed pending a retrial.
Fenerbahçe was banned for two seasons from European competition by UEFA due to the charges.
The court agreed to retry the suspects on the charges of being a member of a criminal organization, but it rejected Yıldırım’s demand for a retrial on the grounds that the investigation was part of a “plot” against the convicted suspects.
The convicted suspects were able to file appeal after the Specially Authorized Courts, which oversaw the match-fixing case among others, were abolished in March 2013.
Prosecutor Coşkun pleaded for a retrial, arguing that Yıldırım had been mistakenly accused regarding some of the charges, while other charges were exaggerated compared to the information in the investigation files.
The match-fixing probe was originally launched by Zekeriya Öz, one of the prosecutors involved in the December 2013 graft investigation targeting key cabinet members. Öz has since been investigated as part of government attempts to target sympathizers of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. He fled to Armenia in August with a colleague after an arrest warrant was issued regarding both judicial figures.
Yıldırım has repeatedly claimed that the match-fixing case was a politically motivated plot hatched by the Gülen movement.
Former suspects are expected to sue for damages after the ruling of acquittal.