Handball star Karabatic to stand trial in betting case
MONTPELLIER, France (AP) — France’s biggest handball star Nikola Karabatic will stand trial for fraud over his suspected involvement in an illegal betting case.
Karabatic, a multiple world and Olympic gold medalist, and his younger brother Luka were among a group of players banned by the French league two years ago for betting on the result of a match in which their Montpellier club, which had already secured the title, lost to a struggling team.
Karabatic’s lawyer Michael Corbier told The Associated Press on Wednesday the trial will likely take place within months.
“We would have preferred the charges to be thrown out, but we’ll aim for a not-guilty verdict,” said Corbier. “In theory he is facing five years in prison and a fine, but even a suspended sentence of just half anhour in jail would be too much.”
Karabatic, who was briefly detained when the case emerged, now plays for Barcelona in the Spanish league. Other former or current Montpellier players including Mladen Bojinovic, Samuel Honrubia, Dragan Gagic, Primoz Prost, Issam Tej and Mickael Robin will also be tried.
Karabatic has denied placing bets on the match that Montpellier lost 31-28 to Cesson-Rennes.
Betting authority Francaise de Jeux reported an unusually high increase in betting at halftime in the match, raising suspicions and triggering a police investigation.