Osijek County Court issued its ruling on Wednesday in the trial of former top executive of Dinamo Zagreb, Zdravko Mamic, and sentenced him to six and a half years in prison in the first instance verdict.
His three co-defendants were also sentenced, his younger brother Zoran Mamic to four years and 11 months, former Dinamo executive Damir Vrbanovic to three years, and tax official Milan Pernar four years and two months in prison.
The four defendants were charged by the anti-corruption police Uskok with illegally syphoning 116 million kuna (€15.7 million) from the club, as well as tax evasion, for not paying 12.2 million kuna (€1.6 million) in taxes.
Zdravko Mamic was found guilty on all counts, Pernar and Zoran Mamic were found guilty for assisting in tax evasion and bribery. Both Mamic brothers were found guilty for diverting transfer fees for Luka Modric, and along with Vrbanovic, for diverting transfer fees paid to the club for Dejan Lovren. Modric had moved to Tottenham Hotspurs from Dinamo Zagreb in 2008, before joining Real Madrid in 2012. Lovren was transferred from Dinamo to the French powerhouse Olympique Lyonnais in 2010.
A total of 97 witnesses were invited to testify during the marathon trial, which also involved reports submitted by financial forensic experts.
Mamic senior was also ordered to pay back 52 million kuna (€7 million), meaning funds in bank accounts belonging to him and members of his family will be seized to cover the fine once the verdict comes into force following appeals.
On Tuesday, the day before the verdict, Mamic had left Croatia for the town of Medjugorje in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, a popular Catholic pilgrimage site known among believers for regular apparitions of St. Mary. Croatian law does not require defendants to attend verdicts, and none of the four defendants were present in the courtroom on Wednesday.
“This was not planned, it was a spontaneous decision. I felt I must go to a place where I will feel best and find peace. There was no doubt about going to Medjugorje, where I instantly found peace, and where I have lots of friends. I judged it would be better for me here, rather than coming to the courtroom in Osijek where I would be frustrated,” Mamic told N1 television on Tuesday.
In the high profile trial, which started in April 2017, prosecutors had indicted Mamic for illegally taking portions of transfer fees paid by foreign clubs to Dinamo players. Among former Dinamo players called to testify during the trial were national team stalwarts Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren.
In March, Modric was charged with perjury after he gave contradicting statements in his testimony in court and in a deposition to investigators about the date annexes to his contract with Dinamo regulating transfer fees were signed.
(€1 = 7.38 kuna)