Karabatic found guilty in match-fixing trial

AFP
French handball player Nikola Karabatic arrives at Montpellier's courthouse, southern France, on June 25, 2015 (AFP Photo/Pascal Guyot)

French handball player Nikola Karabatic arrives at Montpellier's courthouse, southern France, on June 25, 2015

French handball player Nikola Karabatic arrives at Montpellier's courthouse, southern France, on June 25, 2015 (AFP Photo/Pascal Guyot)

Montpellier (France) (AFP) - French handball star Nikola Karabatic, 31, has been found guilty of fraud by a court in Montpellier and fined 10,000 euros (£7,200, $11,200) over his role in a match-fixing scandal.

The incident refers to a match between Cesson and Karabatic's former club Montpellier in May 2012, which was deemed rigged.

The Serbian-born player, a three-time world champion who has since been playing in Spain for Barcelona, escaped a three-month suspended prison sentence and a larger fine of 30,000 euros demanded by the prosecution.

None of the 16 people indicted, including seven players, were jailed.

Having already wrapped up the French title, Montpellier lost 31-28 to Cesson, who were fighting to avoid relegation.

But the game attracted bets totalling 103,000 euros -- a huge amount for a sport that usually sees bets amounting to only a few thousand euros.

Karabatic's lawyers have announced that they will appeal against the court's decision.

"The evidence of the proceedings shows that Nikola Karabatic was in contact with other members of the team contrary to what he maintains...And if he did not play, he participated," the court said.

Fines ranging from 1,500 to 30,000 euros were imposed on the defendants.

Mladen Bojinovic -- who currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain -- was handed the largest fine (30,000 euros), while Nikola's brother Luka Karabatic was ordered to cough up 15,000 euros.

Primoz Prost, Samuel Honrubia, Issam Tej and Dragan Gagic were all hit with 10,000-euro fines while Mickaël Robin had to pay 5,000 euros.

The Francaise des Jeux (FDJ) -- the state lottery operator owned by the French government and an official partner of the sport in France -- were defrauded out of 300,000 euros in the scandal, although they were reimbursed almost 200,000.

"It is not a reasonable argument" that the players, "professionals of the highest level" have "given the maximum of their physical and athletic abilities" knowing that there were large sums riding on them losing, the court added.

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