Footballers freed from jail
12 March 2004
CARTAGENA – Three Leicester City footballers facing sex charges were flying back to Britain Friday after being granted bail by a Spanish judge.
Paul Dickov, Frank Sinclair and Keith Gillespie said nothing as they walked out of Sangonera prison Thursday a week after being sent there.
The trio, who deny sexually assaulting three women in a La Manga hotel where the club was on a training break, were met by club chief executive Tim Davies.
Bail was set at a total of EUR 288,000 by a judge in Cartagena Thursday.
After the hearing, the players returned to the prison to complete the paperwork enabling their release.
“The players are delighted they are able to return to England after what has been a very traumatic time for them,” said Davies.
“They are in good health and are looking forward to being reunited with their families as soon as possible.
“They maintain their total innocence of all outstanding charges and also want to express their confidence in the Spanish legal system and that justice will be done.”
The women’s lawyer, Encarnacion Gomez, had not been able to speak to her clients about the decision because they had left the court earlier but said they would be disappointed.
“It does not seem good, but we respect the decision of the judge,” she said.
“It leaves us a bit perplexed.”
The three players face up to 14 years in prison if found guilty.
The judge granted the men bail after a private hearing which lasted several hours in which he heard evidence from the players and their accusers.
Luis Ruiperez, a member of the players’ legal team, said a face-to-face meeting, known as a “careo”, had been held between one of the players and one of the women.
He said it was a process in which accuser and accused are able to argue over differences between their alternate versions of events.
There was also an identity parade and evidence from hotel staff and another Leicester player, Steffen Freund, who flew back from the UK.
He was one of nine players arrested last week but was later freed and cleared of all charges.
The judge earlier broke off proceedings to express horror at a series of blasts in Madrid, in which at least 190 people died.
Six Leicester City players were released from custody last week.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news