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Pembroke FC team manager accused of football corruption

Updated - Adds MFA statement launching investigation - The team manager of Pembroke FC was refused bail today after being arraigned in court and accused of attempting to bribe Mosta FC players.

Ucha Anyanwu, 30, born in Nigeria and married to a Maltese woman for the past 13 years, pleaded not guilty to the charges and requested bail.

The prosecution however strongly objected, on various grounds, the first being the serious nature of the crime which, it said "is killing Maltese football."

The court was also informed that there were a number of witnesses who were still to testify, some of whom shared the same roof with the accused.

The defence countered that the accused was a married man and a father of three. Moreover the woman who has been his wife for the past 13, years was expecting another child. Although the accused was born in a foreign land, he has strong ties in Malta and never had any problems in the past.

Magistrate Joseph Mifsud remarked that being a foreigner or a Maltese did not make any difference to him. The accused was innocent until proved guilty.

The court however denied bail at this stage and observed that "match fixing damages the social, educational and cultural values reflected by sports........It's like a cancer at the heart of football."

The court also upheld a request by the prosecution to order the freezing of assets held by the accused both locally and abroad.

The prosecution pointed out that the accused's sister worked in a bank in Nigeria and so any money derived from the accused's allegedly criminal activity could easily be transferred abroad.

The court further ordered the Registrar of courts to draw up a report on the assets of the accused.

Inspectors Elton Taliana and Robert Vella prosecuted.

Lawyers David Camilleri and Joseph Gatt were defence counsel.

MFA HOLDING INVESTIGATION

In a statement in reaction to the court case, the Malta Football Association said it has requested its own prosecutor to immediately initiate an investigation into the allegations as well as to issue a temporary suspension of the team manager with immediate effect as stipulated in the association’s regulations.

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