VLADIMÍR Wänke, who previously served as a high-ranking official of the Slovak Football Association (SFZ), was sentenced to three years and four months in prison on April 7 by the Special Court in Pezinok. He was also ordered to pay a fine of €2,000, the TASR newswire reported. The prosecutor had asked for a punishment of at least six years and 10 months in prison and a fine of €3,000.
Wänke was found guilty on four of the eight counts of which he was accused: for accepting a bribe in the form of a crate of apples, two cartons of wine and Sk15,000 (almost €500). The court also ruled that using a police agent to uncover the bribes in this case was in accordance with the law, TASR reported.
“The crimes I am accused of have not happened in real life,” Wänke reacted after the court ruling, as quoted by TASR. He immediately appealed the verdict. The prosecutor also appealed the ruling and the case will now continue before the Supreme Court.
Testimony from the last four witnesses was heard by the Special Court on April 2. Among them was the key witness for the prosecution, Alexander Szabó. Wänke was arrested when he accepted the bribes from Szabó. Wänke defended himself by saying that the envelope with the money was given to him without him being aware of it, the ČTK newswire previously reported. Wänke repeated to the court that he did not accept the bribe, that he did not personally take the envelope with the money, and that he was not even aware of its contents.
“Mr Szabó must have put it on the table,” he said.
Wänke was accused of taking bribes five times from Szabó for speeding up the process of issuing registration cards for football players. According to ČTK, the bribes were made to influence the transfer of players from Austrian, Czech, Vietnamese and Slovak football clubs.
Wänke is the first high-level sports official to stand trial in the Special Court, which usually handles corruption cases involving politicians and cases of organised crime.
13. Apr 2009 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff from press reports