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Referee Suspected in German Match-Fixing

March 26, 2005 GMT

BERLIN (AP) _ Another referee is suspected of being involved in Germany’s match-fixing scandal, the investigating body said Saturday.

Felix Zwayer, a witness in the case, is accused of holding back information and failing to tell investigators he was sought out by a fellow referee to help influence a match.

``I’m not quite certain if money didn’t flow in the direction of Zwayer, too,″ said Horst Hilpert, chairman of the sports court committee looking into fixed matches.

The 23-year-old Zwayer told investigators he didn’t regard a conversation with Dominick Marks _ accused of accepting a $40,000 bribe _ as an attempt to draw him into the betting scam.

In addition to the sports court’s activities, Berlin prosecutors are investigating 25 people in the case, in which three Croatian brothers are accused of bribing referees and players to manipulate matches for betting profits.

Four referees and 14 players are suspected of rigging at least 10 matches, mostly in Germany’s lower divisions. News of the scandal emerged in January when four referees informed soccer officials of their suspicions about one of their colleagues, Robert Hoyzer.

Hoyzer has admitted accepting bribes and successfully manipulating matches, and has since resigned.

Zwayer’s lawyer denied any wrongdoing by his client and accused the German Soccer Federation and its sport court of damaging the investigation by scaring witnesses.

``If there are any more possible witnesses, they’ll think twice considering how my client is being handled _ this can’t be helpful to clearing up the scandal,″ Uwe Freyschmidt told the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel.

Zwayer was the sideline assistant of Marks during the game in which the referee reportedly took the bribe.