July 12, 2019 / 12:09 PM / 8 days ago

Indonesia court jails six in first trial over match fixing

JAKARTA (Reuters) - An Indonesian court has handed down jail sentences to six people, including a former referee and members of the national soccer association, in the country’s first trial over match-fixing, according to a statement on the court’s website.

The three-month trial at the Banjarnegara district court on Java island was connected to a game in Indonesia’s third tier league between Persibara Banjarnegara and PSIP Pemalang in 2018.

Pemalang had won the game 1-0, but the Persibara manager later reported to authorities suspicions of match-fixing, resulting in a police investigation 

The suspects were charged under the country’s fraud statute that can result in a maximum jail term of three years.

The six, who had already been banned for life from working in soccer in Indonesia, received sentences of up to three years in jail as well as fines.

A lawyer for Tjan Ling Eng, a former executive committee member of Indonesian soccer’s governing body (PSSI), said his client would decide next week whether to appeal his 21-month jail sentence.

“My client did not commit match fixing in the third tier league,” lawyer Kairul Anwar said by telephone. 

Soccer is hugely popular in Indonesia but the local leagues have long been dogged by allegations of widespread match-fixing and corruption.

Akmal Marhali, an activist at a non-governmental group Save Our Soccer, welcomed the prosecution.

“This is the first time that a match-fixing case in soccer has been brought to prosecution. Other times the PSSI just imposed sanctions on its members,” he said by telephone.

The Southeast Asian country was also barred from international soccer in 2015 due to government meddling in their domestic league, shutting them out of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup. The ban was lifted in 2016.

Reporting by Jessica Damiana; Editing by Ed Davies and Toby Davis

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