Bulgarian Court Demands Harsh Punishment for Mali Striker
The regional court in Sofia is insisting on a more serious punishment for the Malian striker and Levski Sofia football player Garra Dembele, who was caught drink-driving in December.
Earlier Wednesday, Dembele signed an agreement with the Prosecutor's Office in Sofia, which envisioned 6-month suspended sentence and 3-year probation period..
However, the judge Ivo Hinov has decided that the punishment was not enough, taking into consideration the player's offense, and he insisted that community service is added to his probation.
The Prosecutor's Office has agreed with the additional condition of the court, but Dembele's lawyer, Konstantin Simeonov, objected and the case was returned to the Prosecutor's Office.
"The court's ruling is very harsh and practically impossible to be implemented by someone like Garra Dembele," Simeonov said.
In his words, the football player is not a Bulgarian citizen and he should not be obliged to stay in the country during his probation period.
The lawyer has also requested cancellation of the order, which forbids Dembele to leave Bulgaria, so that he could join Levski Sofia in a training camp.
"I think that the decision will not be an obstacle to a potential transfer of Dembele. There are not legislative obstacles that could prevent his from being sold," Simeonov said.
Garra Dembele, 24 started his career as an exciting young prospect in the French team of Auxerre. He even played in the French Under-21 national squad. In October 2006, though, his career went downhill, as he was accused of raping 22-year old American student while in Rome. The raping charges were subsequently dropped, but Dembele never played in a top-level European team since this case.
However, Dembele is a still serious contender for winning the European Golden Boot award for scoring the most goals in the course of a single season.
Dembele is not the first foreign football player who has "succumbed" to Sofia's Bohemian nightlife. Moroccan former national squad players Youssef Rabeh, who also used to play for Levski, was involved in several alcohol - induced accidents last year, leading to a serious decline in his otherwise promising career.
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