OSIJEK (Croatia), June 14 — Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren’s turn in the witness box at a multi-million euro corruption trial was adjourned today after a furious outburst from defendant Zdravko Mamic, the former chairman of Dinamo Zagreb.
Lovren, 27, arrived at the tribunal in Croatia’s eastern city of Osijek to be questioned over his 2010 transfer from Dinamo to French side Lyon.
Mamic, considered the most powerful man in Croatian football, is being tried along with three others: his brother and former Dinamo coach Zoran Mamic, former club director Damir Vrbanovic, and a tax inspector.
They were charged last year with abuse of power and graft that cost the former Croatian champions more than €15 million (RM71.58million), and the state €1.5 million.
Most of the money — more than €12 million — was illegally acquired by the Mamic brothers notably through fictitious deals related to player transfers, according to the indictment.
Today, during the testimony of Lovren’s father, Mamic stood up and complained about the prosecutor’s questions to the witness.
After a warning from the judge, Mamic’s two attorneys tried to calm him down but only made him more angry.
“What are you talking about! I can behave this way because my skin is at stake,” the furious 57-year-old shouted at his lawyers.
“Get lost! You will not defend me... I will defend myself!”
Mamic told the judge he was sacking his lawyers, who in turn said they were terminating their services to the defendant.
After a pause, the judge set the next hearing for early July. Lovren is to appear as a witness in September.
Yesterday, Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric, 31, appeared in the witness box to give evidence over financial details of his 2008 transfer from Dinamo to Tottenham Hotspur.
Neither of the two players is a suspect.
“I’m a guy with balls. Anyone who wants to can check,” Mamic told reporters after the hearing.
Mamic’s trial is a major one for Croatian football, which is known for the success of its national team but also hooliganism and poor infrastructure. — AFP