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Last Updated: Friday, 5 March, 2004, 10:57 GMT
Leicester players appear in court
Frank Sinclair
Leicester City player Frank Sinclair appeared in court on Friday
Six Leicester City footballers have appeared in a Spanish court following allegations of sexual assault.

Matt Elliott, Keith Gillespie, Lilian Nalis, Paul Dickov, Frank Sinclair and James Scowcroft spent one night in custody before their Friday appearance.

Mr Nalis, Mr Dickov, Mr Sinclair and Mr Scowcroft were asked about claims of sexual aggression and breaking and entering.

Mr Elliott and Mr Gillespie were quizzed over other allegations.

The club's chief operating officer Paul Mace said the players "consistently and strenuously denied" the allegations.

The court proceedings were held behind closed doors in Cartagena.

The Premiership club were training at the La Manga sports complex when three German women say they were assaulted by men who broke into their hotel bedroom.

The women gave evidence for a second day on Friday.

The women and the six players had given evidence on Thursday.

Three other players have been released.

Danny Coyne and Nikos Dabizas, questioned over breaking and entering and failing to help the women, were provisionally released while Steffen Freund, quizzed about failing to help a victim of crime, was released without charge.

Under the Spanish legal system, a judge has 72 hours from the time of the arrest to decide whether to proceed with charges.

Lilian Nalis, Paul Dickov, James Scowcroft, Frank Sinclair quizzed over sexual aggression and breaking and entering
Keith Gillespie questioned about aggression and breaking and entering
Nikos Dabizas, Danny Coyne, Matt Elliott were quizzed over breaking and entering, failing to help the women. All except Elliott released.
Steffen Freund questioned over failing to help the women. Released

Mr Mace said the club treated the situation with "the utmost seriousness" and would be launching its own internal investigation.

He added "something has gone seriously wrong" during the training visit to La Manga which had "undermined" preparations for an upcoming game against Birmingham City.

He did not want to prejudge the investigations by the Spanish authorities nor the club, but said: "We have every confidence in the Spanish judicial system that justice will be done."

Commenting generally on recent bad publicity about footballers, Mr Mace said: "This is not the first time that the football industry as a whole has found itself with disappointing coverage that does not portray our national game in the best possible light.

"This is not good for Leicester City Football Club, this is not good for the game."

The nine players were arrested after the three women complained to police at Alicante airport, as they were about to fly home to Germany.

The women were persuaded by police to remain in the country to be interviewed, police said.

The alleged victims were found to have suffered injuries to various parts of their body when examined by doctors at Alicante general hospital and police doctors.

They separately identified by photograph the footballers alleged to have been involved.

The rest of the Leicester squad have flown home from Spain.

The BBC's James Munro
"It's a case which has generated huge interest here in Spain"

Nine Leicester players arrested
04 Mar 04  |  Leicestershire


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