Former club president regrets attacking Turkish soccer referee but denies threatening to kill him

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The former president of a top-division soccer team in Turkey told a court on Tuesday that he regretted attacking a referee at the end of a league game but denied threatening to kill him.

Faruk Koca, who resigned as president of MKE Ankaragucu after punching referee Halil Umut Meler, has been charged with causing wilful injury to a public official, threatening an official and violating a law relating to the prevention of violence in sports.

He faces up to 13 years in prison if found guilty.

Koca attacked Meler on Dec. 11 after a 1-1 draw between Ankaragucu and Caykur Rizespor. The referee, who was also kicked by two other people while lying on the ground, was hospitalized with a minor fracture close to his eye.

Meler has also accused Koca of threatening to kill him during the attack.

Koca was arrested but has since been released on bail. He appeared in court with three other defendants who were also charged.

“The part about the threat is not true,” the state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Koca as telling the court during the opening hearing. “It was the first time in my life that I engaged in a physical intervention against anyone. I am sorry.

“I have already expressed my regrets to the public. I present my regrets once again in court.”

Trial was adjourned until Feb. 28.

The attack against Meler caused a public furore and prompted the Turkish Football Federation to suspend all league games for a week.

Koca was imposed a permanent ban from soccer while Ankaragucu was fined 2 million lira ($69,000) and has been forced to play five home games without fans.


AP soccer:

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