Court reverses acquittal in high-profile Turkish match-fixing case

Turkey’s Court of Cassation overturned an acquittal verdict by a lower court on a match-fixing case involving Fenerbahce’s former chairman Aziz Yildirim, Turkish media reported on Thursday.

According to the T24 news portal, the top court decided that the trial court erred during the procedure by merging two separate cases.

Court of Cassation’s ruling will result in a retrial of the 36 defendants in Istanbul 13th Heavy Penal Court.

No official statement came from the top court on the case.

Yildirim gave a brief statement to the sports editor of the pro-government Takvim newspaper, noting that top court did not dismiss the verdict with prejudice, only over
procedural errors.

The high profile case started in 2011 after police detained 60 people in raids across Turkey, including Aziz Yildirim, then chairman of Fenerbahce, and other prominent figures in Turkey’s primary football division.

The court found Yildirim guilty in 2012 and sentenced him to six years and three months in jail on match-fixing and organized crime charges.

Retrial and acquittal

After the 2013 graft probe that targeted then prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his cabinet members, Erdogan accused the Gulen movement, led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, of masterminding a judicial coup against his administration in the guise of a corruption probe.

Accusing the Gulenists of infiltrating the judiciary, Erdogan’s ruling AK Party majority in parliament abolished the special-authorized courts which oversaw high profile cases such as Ergenekon and Sledgehammer trials.

Subsequently, a Turkish court has ordered a retrial of the match-fixing case citing the abolishment of the courts that convicted the defendants.

In October 2015, the court acquitted the defendants of all charges. In 2016 the police and judicial figures who oversaw the match-fixing case of 2012 faced charges of conspiracy over their role in the high-profile trial.

Yildirim was the chairman of Fenerbahce between 1998 and 2018. The Turkish sports club has one of the country’s most successful football teams, which has won 19 championship titles in the Turkish Super League.

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