NAPLES, Italy — The prison sentence for former Juventus executive Antonio Giraudo in the 2006 Italian match-fixing scandal was reduced from 36 to 20 months and suspended on appeal Wednesday.
Also, the Naples court cleared former referees’ association president, Tullio Lanese, and former referees Tiziano Piero and Paolo Dondarini.
In December 2009, the four defendants in the Calciopoli case were sentenced on charges of criminal association aimed at committing sports fraud.
Lanese and Dondarini had each been sentenced to two years, while Pieri’s initial sentence was for two years and four months.
In the appeal ruling, Giraudo was acquitted of two charges of sports fraud on the grounds of insufficient evidence. The charge of criminal association remained, along with one charge of sports fraud — concerning Juve’s 2-1 win over Udinese in 2004-05.
"Beyond the two acquittals obtained, we’re very disappointed and surprised by today’s decision," Giraudo’s lawyers, Massimo Krogh and Michele Galasso, said in a statement. "We will wait for the sentence’s reasons to be published and we will certainly appeal to the Court of Cassation."
The Court of Cassation is Italy’s top criminal court and the final level of appeal.
At the heart of Calciopoli were allegations that Giraudo and fellow Juventus executive Luciano Moggi created a network of contacts with Italian football federation officials to influence refereeing assignments and arrange for key players in other teams to be booked ahead of matches with the Turin club.
Moggi’s appeal of his five-year, four-month sentence is due to begin in May. Giraudo and the others who were cleared Wednesday were on fast-track trials.
Last year, the Italian football federation extended the five-year bans from the sport for Moggi and Giraudo to life terms. Both men deny wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, Moggi appears set to go on trial again in a defamation suit after being accused of offending a paramilitary police officer’s "reputation and honour" in a 2009 TV show.
The police officer, Attilio Auricchio, was one of the investigators for the Calciopoli case.
Auricchio is seeking C100,000 ($130,000) in damages, according to the ANSA news agency.
In another case, Moggi was given a four-month prison sentence last year for threatening Roma managing director Franco Baldini.
Baldini had been set to give evidence in the Calciopoli case in June 2008 when Moggi approached him and allegedly said, "Watch your step or you’ll have problems."
As a result of the scandal, Juventus was stripped of its 2005 and ’06 Serie A titles and relegated to the second division with a nine-point penalty. The team immediately won promotion back to Serie A.
Besides Juventus, three other big clubs — AC Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina — were penalized, as were Reggina and Arezzo.
Last season, Juventus won Serie A for the first time since the scandal, and with an undefeated record. The club again tops the table this season.