ZAGREB (Reuters) - A Croatian court sentenced the former chief executive of soccer team Dinamo Zagreb, Zdravko Mamic, to six-and-a-half years in prison on Wednesday for tax evasion and siphoning off profits from player transfers.
Two other former senior Dinamo officials and a tax official were also jailed for the same offences.
Zdravko Mamic’s brother Zoran Mamic, a former Dinamo coach, was given a prison sentence of four years and 11 months. Damir Vrbanovic, who is currently a senior official in the Croatian Soccer Federation (HNS), was sentenced to three years in prison.
Milan Pernar, a tax official, was jailed for four years and two months.
All had denied any wrongdoing and have a right to appeal to a higher court. None was present in court when the verdict was announced. Zdravko Mamic left earlier this week for neighbouring Bosnia.
Croatia issued an arrest warrant for Zdravko Mamic, but he told a news conference in Bosnia that he would remain in that country to fight for his innocence.
Mamic has dual Croatian and Bosnian citizenship and under Bosnian law he cannot be extradited but he can serve a jail sentence in Bosnia upon Croatian request if the higher court confirms the sentence.
The officials had been charged with tax evasion worth 12.2 million kuna ($1.9 million) and for siphoning off 116 million kuna from transfers of players from the club.
Dinamo are the most successful Croatian club since the country gained independence in 1991, winning 19 championships.
($1 = 6.2780 kuna)
Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Susan Fenton