ATHENS – A businessman and soccer club owner who had been on the run for two months after being charged with fixing games before being apprehended will be let go after a judge declared there was not enough evidence to hold him, although he would remain in jail until paying a 300,000 euros tax bill.
The surprise release of Makis Psomiadis raised questions about the often cozy relationship between judges and the powerful and influential in Greece and came only two weeks after Kostis Kenteris and Katerina Thanou, Olympic medallists convicted of faking a motorcycle accident were let go after another judge said there wasn’t enough evidence in that case either.
Psomiadis, owner of the Kavala soccer club, had been a wanted man and one of a number of soccer club owners, players, referees and even the President of the Super League who had been arrested on charges of match fixing, money laundering and other allegations. No high level figure has been prosecuted yet, even though Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos declared soccer corrupt to the core in Greece.
Psomiadis’ release, the Athens newspaper Kathimerini said, “would only heighten suspicions about the forces at work to keep Psomiadis out of jail.” He has been convicted of a number of crimes since the 1980’s, including smuggling and embezzlement, but has avoided serving time in jail by claiming ill health. One doctor who in the past diagnosed him as having an illness later had his license to practice medicine revoked and committed suicide.
Kathimerini said that the magistrate and prosecutor handling Psomiadis’s case on battled over whether he should remain in custody pending his trial on charges that he was part of a gang that fixed the results of Greek soccer matches to make profits from gambling.
The 55-year-old denied fixing matches, arguing that there was no proof that he blackmailed or colluded with anyone, nor that he profited from such actions. He claimed that he was a victim of a “savage” attack by the media which was threatening to bring about his “professional, moral and social destruction.” The judge said that that Psomiadis would be released on $820,000 bail and banned from leaving the country. He was returned to jail on Sept. 21 but his lawyer said he would be released after he pays his back taxes.
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