World Bulletin / News Desk
A court sentenced Fenerbahce chairman Aziz Yildirim to more than six years in jail on Monday in a match-fixing trial which has caused turmoil in Turkey but released him from custody pending an appeals court ruling.
Yildirim was among several 93 defendants, including club executives and players, convicted in a case closely watched by European football's ruling body UEFA.
"They are trying to use Fenerbahce to clean the dirt in the matches. I say now as I did at the start: even if we are on the gallows, our last word is Fenerbahce," Yildirim said before the verdict was announced.
The court sentenced Yildirim to three years and nine months for match-fixing and two years and six months for forming an illegal organisation but then released him taking into account the year he has already spent in jail on remand.
He was also fined 1.3 million lira ($720,000) and was banned from club management and watching matches. Other Fenerbahce executives were also convicted, as were a former coach and executive from rival Istanbul club Besiktas.
Yildirim's lawyer said he would launch an appeal.
Hundreds of Fenerbahce supporters outside the court in central Istanbul, many dressed in the club's blue and yellow shirts, celebrated the news the chairman was going to be released.
Fans later gathered in front of Metris jail in Istanbul to give Yildirim a rapturous welcome as he emerged from prison.
A tearful Yildirim, a Fenerbahce flag wrapped around his neck, shook the hands of well-wishers and waved to the crowd.
Fenerbahce shares, which rallied more than eight percent after his release, were down 0.45 percent in afternoon trading.
Yildirim has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, arguing the allegations were designed to undermine the 18-times Turkish champions.
The affair erupted last July when police raids led to the detention of dozens of people including Yildirim.
The trial began in February and a verdict was reached at uncharacteristic speed for the normally slow-moving Turkish judicial system.
Former Giresunspor chairman Olgun Peker was sentenced to two years jail for crimes including forming a criminal gang. Like Yildirim and the two other defendants who were still held in custody until Monday's hearing, he was set free pending appeal.
The Sivasspor chairman and former coach Bulent Uygun were also convicted along with players Gokcek Vederson, Ibrahim Akin and Mehmet Yildiz who received sentences of less than one year.
Fenerbahce were barred from the Champions League last season and there had been media speculation the club could be stripped of the domestic title and relegated to a lower league.
In January, the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) chairman and his two deputies quit over the TFF's failure to agree on how to punish clubs caught up in the match-fixing allegations.
The federation's disciplinary committee in May imposed bans of between one and three years on 10 players and officials but did not take action against any clubs.
The indictment named eight clubs, including Fenerbahce, Besiktas and Trabzonspor and 14 players among the defendants.
It referred to around a dozen matches including Fenerbahce's 4-3 victory over Sivasspor which clinched the league championship on the final day of the season in 2011.
($1 = 1.8097 Turkish liras)
Three dismissed executives of Turkey's Star Media Group reject as 'slander,' the accusations made against them by an 'abuse campaign'
Fifth hearing held into death of man who died in intensive care after being severely beaten by unidentified people during the Gezi Park protests
Media organizations banned from broadcasting parliamentary commission investigating four former Turkish ministers until Dec. 27.
President Erdogan said all may take part in solution process, but that sabotage would not be tolerated.
With the ongoing war in Syria, nearly 3 million children deprived of their human rights are struggling to survive in refugee camps. The Mardin-Syrian Assitance Platform President Mehmet Timuragaoglu, has called out for aiding these children.
Former Turkish president says instability spreading across Mideast due to inability to find solution in Palestine.
Discrimination, xenophobia and Islamophobic and racist accusations against Turks in Netherlands are unacceptabble says Turkey's Foreign Ministry spokesman
Ankara's 4th High Criminal Court acquits retired brigadier on charges of killing Turkey's 8th president
"These attacks deepen the existing problems in Libya and the atmosphere of conflict and scupper efforts to resolve the crisis by peaceful means."
18th International Business Forum, hosting companies from around the world, runs from Nov. 26-30
Wednesday’s newspapers cover riots in U.S. following a controversial grand jury decision over the killing of black teen as well as pro-Kurdish party delegation’s upcoming visit to imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan
Current legislation on justice reform does not constitute interference with the judiciary, ministry says.
Nearly 33,000 pairs of shoes, found to contain harmful chemicals, were lost at customs and some have reached the market.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has said Turkey’s consumer price inflation and unemployment rates are likely to rise.
Five Turkish citizens questioned by police about the murder of a Serbian basketball fan in Istanbul.
Turkish premier calls for joint committee to share resources on Cyprus, calls for restart of unification talks