Corruption of minors: ex-hand international Bruno Martini sentenced to one year in prison suspended

Former French handball international Bruno Martini left his post as president of the National League (LNH) after being sentenced on Wednesday to a suspended one-year prison sentence and a fine of 2,500 euros for corruption of a minor and recording of child pornography images .

This sanction, approved at the beginning of the afternoon by a judge of the Paris court after an appearance on prior recognition of guilt (CRPC), also includes a five-year ban on carrying out an activity involving contact with minors, Mr. Martini’s lawyer, Me Elie Dottelonde, told AFP.

“We are trying to pass him off as a monster but the prosecutor, by proposing a CRPC, has shown that he considers that Mr. Martini does not represent a danger” nor that he would be “crank”, underlined Me Dottelonde, remarking that no obligation of care had been pronounced.

Even before the legal outcome, the leaders of the NHL had called Bruno Martini to a quick resignation, which he then presented “with immediate effect”.

– Elective assembly on March 7 –

The League’s steering committee will meet on Thursday to organize the interim before the elective general assembly scheduled for March 7, the NHL said in its press release formalizing Martini’s departure.

Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castera hailed “the quick, clear and responsible reaction of the NHL, in conjunction with the French Handball Federation”: “This resignation was necessary”, she tweeted.

The French Federation announced in the evening that it had “decided unanimously to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Bruno Martini, given the seriousness of the facts for which he was convicted”.

Asked after qualifying for the semi-finals of the World Cup (35-28 against Germany in Gdansk), hand legend Nikola Karabatic said that the Blues had “all been in shock when we heard this news this morning”.

“Afterwards we are in our competition and we focus on ourselves. But it is true that it was not easy” he added.

Targeted by an investigation since June 2020 after the complaint of a 13-year-old teenager, Bruno Martini, 52, was arrested on Monday in Paris and placed in police custody, according to a source familiar with the matter, confirming information from franceinfo. He was then referred on Tuesday, for the CRPC.

At this stage, the investigators have no knowledge of other victims, a source familiar with the matter added.

In view of the photos of the minor with whom he was in contact on Snapchat, “Mr. Martini could not have known that the (complainant) was under 15,” said his lawyer.

Bruno Martini, colossus of 1.97 m, was the goalkeeper of the Blues world champions in 1995, the first major title of the French hand won by the crazy band of “Barjots”, launching a golden era for this sport.

Again world champion in 2001, his rich career as a player led him to the biggest French and European clubs, from OM-Vitrolles to Montpellier – with whom he won the Champions League in 2003 – then Paris.

– Resounding cases –

He then turned to a career as a manager, occupying the position of general manager of Paris handball for more than 10 years, including after its acquisition in 2012 by Qatar Sports Investment (QSI), already owner of PSG.

He left this position at the beginning of 2021, before being elected to the presidency of the NHL.

The investigation targeting Bruno Martini is the latest in a recent series of legal troubles for French sports leaders.

Among the most resounding, Bernard Laporte, the president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR), was sentenced at first instance last month to a two-year suspended prison sentence for having entered into a corruption pact with the businessman and president of the Montpellier club, Mohed Altrad. He appealed against this judgment and withdrew, under pressure from the Ministry of Sports and the Ethics Committee of the FFR.

He was again taken into custody on Tuesday in an aggravated tax fraud laundering case, but has emerged without charges at this stage.

As for Noël Le Graët, the all-powerful boss of the French Football Federation (FFF), he is the subject of an investigation for moral and sexual harassment and was forced to withdraw during an extraordinary Executive Committee.

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