Former B’Kara goalie: ‘Instead of going to police, Delia carried out his own interrogation’

PN leadership Adrian Delia has denied taking the law in his own hands when he ordered Kopric into a car and drove him to a Bugibba garage in a bid to extract a confession on match-fixing out of him

Miroslav Kopric (left) has filed two cases for unpaid wages against Birkirkara FC, whose president was formerly Adrian Delia
Miroslav Kopric (left) has filed two cases for unpaid wages against Birkirkara FC, whose president was formerly Adrian Delia

Nationalist Party leadership candidate Adrian Delia has denied having taken the law in his hands, when he and members of the Birkirkara FC committee seized the car keys of goalkeeper Miroslav Kopric in a bid to drive him to a garage and extract a confession on match-fixing.

Kopric, 31, a Croatian national, has now filed a case with the international sports tribunal in a bid to recover unpaid wages after being accused of, but never charged with, the match-fixing allegations.

But the goalkeeper has insisted that his career was ruined when he was effectively ‘kidnapped’ and taken to a Bugibba garage to confess to match-fixing, without any charges ever filed against him.

Delia is denying the allegation.

“I deny the allegation that the goalkeeper was taken anywhere against his will. He came of his own volition.

“Our obligation was to ask the player to give us his version of events so we could present them to the police. We provided all our findings to the police and the matter is still the subject of an investigation. This case is further evidence that I have zero tolerance for corruption and will continue to fight it even in politics,” Delia told MaltaToday when asked about the event.

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Following a string of bad results, some time in December 2016, Delia confronted Kopric in front of his team-mates, accusing him of being a traitor and that he had betrayed the club.

“He pushed me out of the dressing-room, and took off my training kit, to give it to the manager. Then Jonathan Friggieri, the club secretary, took my car keys and Delia told me to walk behind him. They took my phone from the car,” the goalkeeper said.

At that point, Delia and other committee members – Michael Bonnici, Jeffrey Bezzina, Nick Grima and Friggieri – took Kopric with them, and they drove to Bugibba in two cars.

“They took me to a garage and told me to sit down. He gave me a paper and pen and started shouting, telling me to write names and numbers, or else face the police. I told him immediately that we should go to the police. But instead of going to the police, Delia carried out his own interrogation.”

Kopric said Delia was expecting him to write down the mobile phone numbers of suspects in match-fixing.

“Then we left the garage, we drove to my apartment in Mgarr, and they took my laptop,” Kopric said, who notes that his own accusers lifted the ‘evidence’ that was supposed to be taken by the police.

“On the next day, a Saturday, I myself went to the Mosta police station to report what had happened, and that same afternoon my wife and I made the same report to the Rabat police station. The next day, the police came to my residence and arrested me.

“The police asked me about shady characters I allegedly met while in Malta, but it was untrue because at all the times they mentioned, I had been with my wife,” Kopric said.

The goalkeeper, who is currently with his wife and three children in Croatia, said personal belongings seized from him have not yet been returned.

“I haven’t been in employment for eight months and I need this investigation to be closed if I am to return to football,” Kopric said.

Kopric was kept in custody for 48 hours when he was taken for interrogation.

In a recent statement to the press, Kopric said that the stress brought on his family had led to his wife spending two months in hospital because of complications during her pregnancy, which led to her giving birth to twins six weeks earlier than the due date.

“Because of these false accusations I couldn’t do my job for the last six months and get paid for it because nobody wanted to hire a goalkeeper that was ‘involved’ in match fixing. And I cannot prove that I am innocent because one court expert on Malta does not respect deadlines.”

Kopric is also filing a separate case in the Maltese courts.

Delia is currently running for PN leader, where the outsider is facing Nationalist MP Chris Said and PN treasurer Alex Perici Calascione, as well as former MP Frank Portelli. Of the four candidates two will be selected by the PN’s general council to face a run-off in which it will be the party’s 22,000 paid-up members who will determine who the next PN leader will be.

Delia, a lawyer and partner of the Aequitas firm, is widely billed to be the most popular of all candidates.

But his interests in property development have raised questions about his suitability as potential party leader: only recently, HSBC Malta drew up a constitution of debt for €7.2 million for Mgarr Developments, a company in which Delia is a 9% shareholder.

The company took out millions in loans for the acquisition and redevelopment of the former Mgarr Hotel in Gozo, into an apartment complex.

The constitution of debt effectively means Mgarr Developments must first repay its banking liabilities before Delia can divest himself of his business interests.

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