Saturday, 15 December 2007

Fresh accusations as Calciopoli reaches court

Prosecutors have opened a new investigation into former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi, who was at the centre of last year's Calciopoli scandal, alleging he continued to have an influence on Italian football after he was banned.

Magistrates presented new wiretap evidence at a preliminary hearing in Naples on Saturday that will be used in the fresh probe into Moggi and 36 other people for alleged sporting fraud and criminal association.

The wiretaps concern phone calls between October 2006 and March 2007, after a sports tribunal banned Moggi from football for five years as well as punishing referees, club directors and former Italian federation officials.

One of the sources, who declined to be identified, said the wiretaps indicated Moggi "still had an influence" on Italian football after he was banned. The source added the new probe did not include any further accusations of match-fixing.

"I don't think (the new documents) regard felonies but I have not read the papers yet," Moggi's lawyer Paolo Trofino told reporters at the court house. "It seems to me they are normal contacts between Moggi and his collaborators but it is necessary to see what's in the documents. Moggi talks to anyone."

Saturday's hearing was held to decide whether all of the 37 suspects accused of sporting fraud should be sent to a criminal trial. Prosecutors are also seeking trial on the more serious charge of criminal association for 20 of them.

Most of the men, including Moggi, were represented only by their lawyers today. Judge Eduardo De Gregorio will rule on prosecutors' requests for trial indictments after evaluating the results of the probe.

The next hearing was adjourned to 8 February, 2008.

Various bodies, including the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), the League of Professional Football Clubs (Lega Calcio), Rai television and several clubs including Atalanta, Brescia, Lecce, Udinese and Salernitana have all asked to be recognised as civil parties to the case. The decision will be made on those requests at the next hearing.

Moggi possibly faces a prison sentence if sent to trial and found guilty. Lazio President Claudio Lotito, Fiorentina owner Andrea Della Valle and his brother - the Honorary President - Diego, former FIGC President Franco Carraro and referee Massimo De Santis are also among the accused.

Over the last year, probes were conducted in several cities, including Rome, with investigators looking into possible fraud, illegal betting and false bookkeeping.

As part of the sports trial, some 30 games from the 2004-05 season were scrutinised. Moggi was accused of being at the centre of attempts to gain favourable referees to influence results during the season.

Juve were stripped of both the 2005 and 2006 Serie A titles and demoted to the second division with a nine-point penalty. They have since rejoined the top flight.

Four other Serie A clubs - AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio and Reggina – and Arezzo were forced to begin last season with point penalties for their roles in the scandal.

[10-07-2007: Calciopoli charges for "organisers of a criminal association"]

Source: Reuters / AFP / ANSA

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