Sports

Judge releases former Barcelona president amid ‘Barcagate’ probe

Barcelona, Mar 2 (efe-epa).- The judge investigating the so-called “BarçaGate” case on Tuesday ordered the provisional release of former FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his right hand, Jaume Masferrer, who used their right not to testify.

According to the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC), judge Alejandra Gil has ordered the release of Bartomeu and Masferrer with charges as both are under investigation for malpractices under their administration and corruption in business.

The magistrate has also agreed to lift the secrecy concerning the case, which she had extended up to six times and in which FC Barcelona is not listed as an accused party, but as an affected party, legal sources confirmed to EFE.

Bartomeu and Masferrer, for whom the public prosecutor’s office did not seek precautionary measures, were transferred early morning to the Ciutat de la Justicia, where they faced legal proceedings.

They were arrested Monday by the police or the the Mossos d’Esquadra, along with the director general of the club, Oscar Grau, and the head of the legal services, Roman Gomez-Ponti. The authorities also searched the office of the club at Camp Nou.

All the four people apprehended used their right not to testify before police officers, but while Grau and Gomez-Ponti were released, Bartomeu and Masferrer spent the night at the Les Corts police station.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman on Tuesday said he was upset to learn of the arrest.

“I know Bartomeu well and Oscar Grau as well. I feel very bad for them. I had important moments with them,” he said during a press conference ahead of their Copa del Rey clash against Sevilla. “For me Bartomeu has always been an exceptional person.”

 “This is not good for the club’s image,” he added, although he insisted that it would not affect his team’s performance.

The case, which was opened in May 2020, tries to clarify whether different companies hired by FC Barcelona allegedly carried out a social media campaign to malign individuals and entities not allied to the board of directors under Bartomeu.

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