Germany’s top tennis player Zverev to go on trial for abuse – DW – 01/16/2024

Germany’s top tennis player Zverev to go on trial for abuse – DW – 01/16/2024

Alexander Zverev, Germany’s No. 1 tennis player, will go on trial for physical abuse in May, the Berlin criminal court has confirmed to DW.

Zverev, the Olympic champion in Tokyo in 2021, is accused of “physically abusing a woman and damaging her health during an argument.”

The woman, named by Zverev’s lawyers, is his ex-girlfriend. The 26-year-old Zverev “rejects” the allegations.

In a statement to DW, Lisa Jani, a spokesperson for the court, wrote: “The main hearing in the case will begin in May 2024. We will announce the details in due course.”

In October 2023, Zverev was given a penalty order by the court and fined €450,000 ($492,700). For lesser crimes in Germany, a penalty order can be issued when a judge believes the case is straightforward and doesn’t warrant a trial. The accused can contest the order, maintaining the presumption of innocence, which is why Zverev will now face a public hearing.

Jani said that Zverev wouldn’t necessarily have to appear in person, but that he could be ordered to testify by the judge. The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail, although a prison term for Zverev would be “highly unlikely” given the nature of the penalty order.

Refuting the penalty order at the time, Zverev’s lawyers, Schertz Bergmann, called the proceedings “scandalous,” adding that “there can be no question of a fair trial.”

The law firm questioned the forensic evidence used by the court.

Schertz Bergmann has also sought to quash media reports of the case and its details.

In December, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung was forced to take down an article featuring an interview with his ex-girlfriend, because the article went beyond “the limits of permissible suspicious reporting,” according to a statement from the law firm.

Alexander Zverev at United Cup
Alexander Zverev was part of the Germany team that won the United Cup in Sydney at the start of 2024Image: Mark Baker/AP/picture alliance

Zverev’s trial could coincide with French Open

Zverev himself has occasionally spoken out against the allegations, giving reporters short shrift for asking about them.

At a press conference in November, he described the penalty order as complete nonsense using a profanity.

“Anybody that has semi-standard IQ levels knows what this is all about,” Zverev said.

The ATP Tour, which runs men’s tennis, had previously investigated Zverev over claims he assaulted another ex-girlfriend.

The ATP closed that investigation in January last year, citing “insufficient evidence.”

In the absence of any domestic abuse policy at the ATP, Zverev has been allowed to continue competing despite the latest allegations. He is currently in Melbourne for the Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam tournament, and beat a fellow German, Dominik Koepfer, in his first-round match on Tuesday.

Asked afterwards if it was appropriate for him to still be playing, Zverev claimed few people thought like that.

“Journalists are saying that,” he said. “Some who are actually interested more in this story to write about and more about the clicks than the actual truth.”

It is unclear how the trial will impact his tennis schedule. The French Open, the year’s second Grand Slam, starts on May 26.

Zverev’s lawyers told DW they wouldn’t be adding to their statement released in October. 

Edited by: James Thorogood

This article was updated on January 16th, 2024 following Zverev’s 1st Round tie at the Australian Open

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