Antonio Conte’s lawyers have begun their defence as the Juventus Coach goes to a full trial, risking a 15-month ban, in the betting scandal due to his time at Siena.
Conte was charged with failing to report an attempted fix to the authorities, but the only evidence against him is the testimony of ‘pentito’ (someone who has confessed and receives a large discount on his punishment by naming other names) Filippo Carobbio.
The testimony is based around a team meeting in which Conte allegedly stated there were ‘agreed’ results against Novara and Albinoleffe. However, 23 other players present at the same meeting testified he never said that.
“There is no evidence,” said lawyer Antonio De Rensis. “There is one person’s word against another. No intercepted phone calls, no evidence, no passage of money, nothing.
“I am not here to tell you Carobbio is not credible. I am here to tell you Carobbio is not the only credible one. When we are faced with an accusation and no other evidence aside from that, we have to look at the testimony very carefully.
“When Carobbio was interrogated on January 19, he did not mention Conte, nor did he remember any of his involvement. He only ‘remembered’ on February 29 when testifying before the federal court.
“His accusation is counter to Conte’s history and the 20-month-ban Carobbio got in a plea bargain proves he had interest in dragging others into it.
“The court says Carobbio is credible and Carlo Gervasoni is credible, but one says black and the other white when describing the same thing.
“Carobbio lied about other aspects of the affair, claiming he had no more contact with the betting syndicate although he was shown to have made a series of phone calls using an Egyptian SIM card. So why are you so eager to believe him?
“There were enormous contradictions and admitting would mean you forfeiting the trial. This is not justice, but a pure battle. Carobbio’s testimony on July 10 is a banana skin and the silence speaks volumes. He was not asked about the phone calls. It would’ve been the first thing I’d have asked him.”
The lawyer also made it clear the plea bargain of three months and a €200,000 fine “was agreed with the understanding it did not represent an admission of guilt in any way.”
Many in Italy accept plea bargains in order to avoid a lengthy trial and potentially much longer bans, as one is essentially guilty until proven innocent.
Meanwhile, prosecutor Stefano Palazzi explained why he requested a 15-month ban for Conte and took Carobbio’s word over those of the other 23 players at the team meeting.
“We considered those testimonies to be irrelevant, even if they contrast what was previously said about Albinoleffe-Siena.
“The declarations of those present at the Siena team meeting are not credible, because otherwise they’d be charged with failing to report sporting fraud. Therefore they cannot be used in the trial.”
Many of Conte’s supporters have pointed out if the 23 players were lying about the meeting, then why have they not also been charged with failing to report an attempted fix to the authorities?
The trial continues and a decision is expected next week.