June 8 – A Turkish court has sentenced a media executive and a former police chief to more than 1,000 years each in prison for conspiring to bring match-fixing charges against top-flight Fenerbahce.
Hidayet Karaca, who was the head of Samanyolu media group – later shut down by the government – was handed 1,406 years in jail accused of instigating the tapping of phone calls and forging of documents.
Former police chief Nazmi Ardic was sentenced to 2,170 years on charges including forging documents and conspiring against the club. The court handed down jail sentences to at least 25 other defendants, state-owned news agency Anadolu said.
Fenerbahce’s former president Aziz Yildirim was sentenced to six years in prison a decade ago and ultimately spent a year behind bars. At his trial, he denied the charges and said the case was specifically designed to undermine the Istanbul giants who have won Turkey’s domestic championship 19 times.
The club was barred from playing in European competitions for two seasons, but the case was reopened after prosecutors said it was founded on a conspiracy.
The match-fixing charges were made by prosecutors linked to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric. Five years ago, Gulen, a fierce rival of Turkish president Recip Erdoğan, was claimed to be behind a coup attempt. Scores of his supporters were rounded up in a purge that also reached the Turkish FA.
Fenerbahce chairman Ali Koc told reporters that the court decision proved the club had been the innocent victim of a plot by Gulen’s network. He vowed to pursue legal avenues for “financial and moral” compensation.
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