Modric, Lovren to take stand

Real Madrid's Croatian midfielder Luka Modric attends an interview in the mixed zone at Valdebebas Sport City in Madrid on May 30, 2017.
Real Madrid's Croatian midfielder Luka Modric attends an interview in the mixed zone at Valdebebas Sport City in Madrid on May 30, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

Duo expected to testify on their transfers from Dinamo in big Croatia corruption trial

ZAGREB • Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric will appear as a witness next week at a multi-million-dollar corruption trial involving former top Dinamo Zagreb officials, a judge said yesterday.

He will provide testimony at the trial of former Dinamo chief Zdravko Mamic on Tuesday, the judge at a court in the eastern town of Osijek told AFP.

Another Croatian international, Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren, will follow in the witness box a day later, the judge added.

The two players - who are not suspected of any wrongdoing - had already been questioned by national prosecutors and according to local media their testimonies were considered key in the case.

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The 31-year-old Modric is expected to testify on the financial details of his 2008 transfer from Dinamo to Tottenham Hotspur. From there he joined Real Madrid in 2012.

Lovren, 27, is expected to be questioned over his 2010 transfer from Dinamo to French side Lyon. The defender then moved to English Premier League outfit Southampton before heading to Anfield.

The trial against Mamic and three others - his brother and former Dinamo Zagreb coach Zoran Mamic, former club director Damir Vrbanovic, and a tax inspector - opened in April.

Mamic, 57, is considered the most powerful figure in Croatian football.

His trial is a major one for the sport in the country.

Football is known in Croatia for the success of the national team but there are struggles with hooliganism and poor infrastructure.

The suspects were charged last year for abuse of power and bribery.

Their alleged offences cost the Croatian champions nearly 116 million kunas (S$24.26 million), and cost the state 12 million kunas, according to the indictment.

Most of the money - more than €12 million (S$18.66 million) - was illegally acquired by the Mamic brothers, said the indictment.

The cash was allegedly embezzled through fictitious deals related to player transfers.

All the suspects have pleaded not guilty.

Mamic has repeatedly argued that the probes against him are politically motivated to "destroy Dinamo and the Mamic family".

Local media said the trial is being held in Osijek in a bid to avoid the magnate's influence on judges in Zagreb as he allegedly has close ties with some of them.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2017, with the headline 'Modric, Lovren to take stand'. Print Edition | Subscribe