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Modric again faces perjury charge in native Croatia

ZAGREB, CROATIA (AP) – Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric and former Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren were again charged in Croatia on Thursday with allegedly giving false testimony about financial deals they had with a former Dinamo Zagreb director who has been sentenced for embezzlement and tax fraud in a multi-million-dollar case.

Zdravko Mamic was found guilty in 2018 on several charges that included making illegal profits on player transfers from his time at the helm of Croatian team Dinamo Zagreb, including the deals that took Modric to Tottenham in 2008 and Lovren to Lyon in 2010.

Mamic was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison but fled to Bosnia before the guilty verdict was announced.

Modric and Lovren had been charged with committing perjury and failing to declare taxes on their multi-million transfers to foreign clubs.

But a Croatian court lifted those accusations against the two on the eve of the 2018 World Cup where both played when Croatia reached the final to lose to France. Modric won FIFA’s Golden Ball as the best player at the tournament.

Croatia’s Luka Modric. PHOTO: AP

The Croatian court ruled that there was not enough evidence that Modric – the Ballon d’Or winner and UEFA player of the year in 2018 – and Lovren committed the criminal offence of perjury.

Croatia’s public prosecutors said on Thursday that there is enough evidence that Croatia captain Modric and Lovren falsely testified during the original trial.

The verdict against Mamic said that he signed personal contracts with players during their early development years at Dinamo Zagreb, including Modric and Lovren, obliging them to share their earnings with him. Once they received the money from their contract, they would pay Mamic off.

Mamic claims that some of that money was never paid to him, and that Modric and Lovren are “accomplices” in the graft case against him.

“We met and signed a money-sharing agreement; he (Modric) withdrew the money, gave a part to me,” Mamic claimed when talking to reporters in Bosnia earlier this month. “No player in history has ever paid a single penny of taxes,” he said.

If found guilty of giving false testimony, both players would face between six months and five years in prison. The trial date has not been set.

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