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Kevin Sammut to appeal UEFA's 10-year-ban
Valletta FC player Kevin Sammut 's lawyer says UEFA's 10-year-ban will be appealed following 'unfair trial'.
18 August 2012, 12:00am
News that Valletta FC midfielder Kevin Sammut was one of the three players being charged by UEFA was broken by MaltaToday in June.
The European football governing body found Sammut, better known as 'Il-Viper' guilty of match-fixing during an international qualifier between Malta and Norway in 2008.
Two other players, Kenneth Scicluna of Valletta FC and Stephen Wellman of Qormi FC were acquitted of charges due to lack of evidence. The two players were facing three-year bans.
One of Sammut's lawyers, Michael Sciriha who was present for the hearing at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, told MaltaToday that the player and his legal representatives attended the hearing "under protest" because they were not granted a fair trial.
Sammut's defence counsel also includes lawyers Lucio Sciriha and Emanuel Mallia.
Sciriha noted that the trial was originally planned for May, however Sammut and his legal team protested about the proceedings which they did not deem fit or fair.
"Although things improved since May, our client was still not granted a fair trial, however we abided to the agreement and attended the hearing," Sciriha said.
Sciriha explained that the witnesses brought forward by the defence and other witnesses proposed by the prosecutors and the defence alike were not allowed to present their evidence.
The lawyer said Marijo Cvrtak, the convicted member of a notorious Croatian betting syndicate, who identified the Euro 2008 qualifier between Malta and Norway as a rigged match, was present and produced his evidence.
However, Scriha said Cvrtak's evidence was "confused" and at first the Croat did not even recognise Kevin Sammut.
Cvrtak had testified during his original trial in Bochum that he had met with at least three Malta players at an Oslo hotel to rig the Norway-Malta game.
Scriha added that when the defence team was grilling Cvrtak in order to prove that the Croat did not meet Sammut, the witness could not clearly state when and at what time he met Sammut.
"Due to such shortcomings we will appeal the verdict and we are ready to take it all the way to other European courts if these violations are not addressed," Sciriha stressed.
He said UEFA addressed its doubts on the veracity of the allegations by condemning Sammut, adding "I will not say that somebody had to be made a scapegoat, but lets put it this way everybody is human."
Sammut and his defence layers are expected to hold a press conference in the coming days.
Sciriha also noted that UEFA has not issued its motivation behind its verdict. In a joint statement issued on Friday, UEFA and the Malta Football Association (MFA), said that UEFA's Control & Disciplinary Body decided: "(1) The player Kevin Sammut is banned from any football related activity for ten (10) years. (2) FIFA will be requested to extend this ban, so as to give it a worldwide effect. (3) The findings of the disciplinary Inspector are insufficient to take disciplinary action against the following players: Kenneth Scicluna and Stephen Wellman."
Wellman issued a statement and expressed his satisfaction with this result "as it confirms my lack of involvement and knowledge of the alleged match fixing scheme - a position that I have sustained since inception of the investigation by both Malta FA and UEFA officers, and which has finally been confirmed by an independent adjudicating body of UEFA." The Qormi FC player was assisted by his lawyer Keith A. Borg.
The president of the Malta Football Association (MFA), Norman Darmanin Demajo had refused to reveal the names of the Malta national players charged by UEFA's disciplinary inspectors in connection with match-fixing allegations surrounding the Euro 2008 qualifier between Norway and Malta.
Darmanin Demajo insisted the MFA's sole role was to assist in the investigations being carried out by the Police and UEFA, when asked why the association was not informing the public of the identities of the three footballers.
Speaking to MaltaToday, veteran sports journalist George Micallef had explained that the reason behind MFA's wall of silence could be because the charges have not been formally issued by the police, but only by UEFA. "When similar cases happened in the Italian football league, the names had been revealed by their police because the police were investigating. In our case, we have two separate investigations going on, while the MFA is passing all its information to the two sides," Micallef said.
He added that the Police's investigation might not be advanced to the point that would allow the MFA to publish the names of the footballers.
The Maltese police had started investigating allegations of a fixed match between Norway and Malta last year, when the claims first surfaced during a match-fixing trial in Germany.
Croat Marijo Cvrtak, a convicted member of a notorious Croatian betting syndicate, had identified the Euro 2008 qualifier between Malta and Norway as one of the rigged matches. The match had ended with Malta being beaten by Norway 4-0 in Oslo. Norway had scored three goals in the last 18 minutes and while Wellman and Scicluna had played the full 90 minutes, Sammut had been substituted at half time.
The MFA had also carried out a three-month inquiry, during which more than 30 persons were interviewed. The investigation was detailed in a 600-page dossier that has been passed on to UEFA in March.
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