Dutch football player suspect in five armed robberies in Belgium
A Dutch football player is suspected of involvement in five armed robberies in the area around Turnhout in Belgium - robberies on a casino, a gas station, a supermarket and two gambling offices,RTL Nieuws reports.
Ismail H., 22, had a contract with AS Roma and played for Westerlo on a rental basis. He was fired in January, according to the broadcaster.
Rene Sterken, H.'s person of trust when he played for FC Twente in his youth, is shocked by his arrest. He knows H. as a boy who sometimes had discipline problems, but also a "nice and polite" boy. "You would not expect this of him. So I believe him innocent until the opposite is proven", Sterken said to the broadcaster.
H. had a bright football career ahead of him, and was even in he picture for the Moroccan national team, Sterken said. These accusations will be bad for his career, he added. "Even if he is innocent, his name is already pretty tarnished. And 'discipline problems' is different from being involved in a robbery. The step between is a big one. I hope it will work out."
The young footballer is currently in custody. According to his lawyer, he denies involvement in the robberies.