The 27-year-old was found guilty of repeated bodily harm, attempted bribery, violence against public employees, and insults following his arrest on the Greek island of Mykonos. The athlete claims he was actually a victim and said he did nothing wrong. He has appealed against the court’s decision and has been granted a retrial.
Manchester United and England team captain Harry Maguire was arrested by undercover police officers sent from mainland Greece to battle organised crime on Mykonos Island, The Sun reported, without citing its sources. According to the tabloid, the police officers were monitoring drug dealing and were called in to detain the footballer.
Greek crime reporter Giorgos Sombolos told The Sun that “high-end criminals” trafficking drugs and prostitutes operate on Mykonos, which attracts three million tourists every year. According to the outlet, a day before Maguire’s arrest, the undercover officers busted an illegal lockdown party and seized several kilos of cocaine and a drug similar to MDMA.
Criminal or Victim?
Maguire, 27, was arrested together with his brother Joe and pal Christopher Sharman on 20 August after police were called in to deal with a brawl in a bar. Greek prosecutors say several police officers were assaulted during the arrest. Maguire, his brother, and friend Sharman were charged with repeated bodily harm and violence against public employees and resisting arrest. The athlete was also charged with bribery. The three men denied all charges. On 25 August, Maguire received a suspended jail sentence of 21 months and 10 days. His brother Joe and Christopher Sharman received suspended sentences of 13 months.
The three men claimed that Maguire’s sister had been approached by a group of Albanians who injected her with an unknown substance and that she immediately fainted. That’s when the police reportedly arrived. The athlete’s lawyer says Maguire and his entourage did not realise the ununiformed men were police officers and said the defendants had acted in self-defence. Prosecutors claim the police officers showed their ID cards.
A source close to the player said: “If these are anti-corruption police, what are they doing being called to an incident outside a bar?” Speaking with the BBC, Maguire said he thought they were being kidnapped and said he seriously feared for his life.
“My initial thought was that we are being kidnapped. We got on our knees and put our hands in the air and then they just started hitting us in the legs saying my career’s over, no more football, you won’t play again. And at this point I thought there was no chance these are police, I don’t know who they are, so I tried to run away, I feared for my life”, he said.
A forensic expert confirmed that Maguire, his brother, and his friend were beaten. His lawyer said the athlete became angry only after police hit his dominant leg.
The bribery charges stem from a statement made by a police officer involved in the arrest, who said that after the group was arrested, Maguire attempted to bribe them. “Do you know who I am? I am the captain of Manchester United. I am very rich. I can give you money. I can pay you. Please let us go”, Maguire reportedly said, as cited by the officer.
The athlete’s defence said his words could have been lost in translation and said the football player asked to pay a fine.
After Maguire appealed the court’s decision and a retrial had been granted, the lawyer representing the police officers said some of the charges could be dropped if the athlete and his entourage issue an apology.
However, Maguire was adamant. “I don’t feel like I owe an apology to anybody, an apology is for when you’ve done something wrong”, he told the BBC.
Maguire became the most expensive defender in the history of football after Manchester United signed him from Leicester City for a whopping 80 million euros ($95 million).
He has captained both the England national team and Manchester United, but following the trial he was withdrawn from the national squad.