New law to lead to more releases
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Beşiktaş Coach Tayfur Havutçu hails supporters welcoming him upon his release from the Metris Prison on Dec 12. Havutçu and seven other suspects were released pending charges as part of the match-fixing case and more releases could be on the way. AA photoMore suspects are expected to be released from prison pending charges after President Abdullah Gül approved a controversial law reducing jail sentences for match fixers yesterday.
The amendments to the law on violence in sports, which led to the arrests of 31 sports officials, players and coaches in the match-fixing case since the summer, will be published in the Official Gazette today.
Earlier this week eight suspects including coach Tayfur Havutçu and officials Serdal Adalı and Ahmet Ateş of Beşiktaş were released after being jailed in Istanbul’s Metris Prison since July.
There are now 23 suspects in prison pending trial, but law experts believe more releases are on the way in accordance with the amendments, which decreased the maximum punishment of match fixing from 12 years to three.
“Lawyers of the jailed suspects would immediately apply to a court demanding the release of their clients, and [the suspects] are likely to be released soon,” said Zümrüt Yezdani, a law expert specializing in sports, to Hürriyet Daily News.
Kısmet Erkiner, a member of Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the head of Turkey’s Institute of Sports Law, agreed more releases were on the way.
“Releases are normal,” he said in a statement. “In the new law, the minimum punishment for this offense is one year so the execution is likely to be eight months. The fact they were under arrest appears unnecessary. There may be more releases.”
Yezdani, however, warned some suspects in the case were charged with crimes other than match fixing in the indictment, decreasing their possibility of a release.
“The content of the crime differs, we see in the indictment some suspects are being charged with more than one crime,” Yezdani said.
Olgun Peker, alleged mobster and No. 1 suspect in the case, is charged with several crimes including forming and leading a criminal organization along with match-fixing allegations.
Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım, the highest-profile suspect in the case and the No. 2 suspect, is also charged with leading a criminal and unarmed organization, which he allegedly used for manipulating games.
“For suspects charged with more than one offense, the rule of release is unlikely to be applied,” Yezdani said.
On Dec. 2 Gül used his presidential veto to strike down the same law but subsequently had to approve the bill since it was presented in the same form a second time.
Parliament approved the same law again Dec. 10.
On Dec. 12, an Istanbul court ruled in favor of the release of Havutçu, Adalı and Ateş along with Istanbul BB players İbrahim Akın and İskender Alın, Sivasspor goalkeeper Korcan Çelikay, former Diyarbakırspor chairman Abdurrahman Yakut and former Eskişehirspor footballer Ümit Karan, upon their lawyers’ appeals in the wake of the looming changes to the match-fixing law.
The first hearing for the landmark case is set for Feb. 14, 2012.