Footballers appear in court
5 March 2004
CARTAGENA – Six footballers from English club Leicester City appeared in a Spanish court Friday following allegations of sexual assault.
Frank Sinclair, Keith Gillispie and Paul Dickow were kept in custody by a Spanish judge in connection with alleged sexual assault on three women. All the other players were released on bail.
The court proceedings were held behind closed doors in Cartagena.
The Premiership club were training at the La Manga sports complex when three German women say they were assaulted by men who broke into their hotel bedroom.
The women will continue to give evidence to the court on Friday.
The women and the six players had given evidence on Thursday.
Danny Coyne and Nikos Dabizas, questioned over breaking and entering and failing to help the women, were provisionally released while Steffen Freund, quizzed about failing to help a victim of crime, was released without charge.
Under the Spanish legal system, a judge has 72 hours from the time of the arrest to decide whether to proceed with charges. The club’s chief operating officer Paul Mace said the players “consistently and strenuously denied” the allegations.
He said the club treated the situation with “the utmost seriousness” and would be launching its own internal investigation.
He added “something has gone seriously wrong” during the training visit to La Manga which had “undermined” preparations for an upcoming game against Birmingham City.
He did not want to prejudge the investigations by the Spanish authorities nor the club, but said: “We have every confidence in the Spanish judicial system that justice will be done.”
Commenting generally on recent bad publicity about footballers, Mr Mace said: “This is not the first time that the football industry as a whole has found itself with disappointing coverage that does not portray our national game in the best possible light.
“This is not good for Leicester City Football Club, this is not good for the game.”
The nine players were arrested after the three women complained to police at Alicante airport, as they were about to fly home to Germany.
The women were persuaded by police to remain in the country to be interviewed, police said.
The alleged victims were found to have suffered injuries to various parts of their body when examined by doctors at Alicante general hospital and police doctors.
They separately identified by photograph the footballers alleged to have been involved.
The rest of the Leicester squad have flown home from Spain.
Subject: Spanish news