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German prosecutor demands 5-1/2 years jail for Bayern boss Hoeness

Bayern Munich President Uli Hoeness arrives for the verdict in his trial for tax evasion at the regional court in Munich March 13, 2014. A G
Bayern Munich President Uli Hoeness arrives for the verdict in his trial for tax evasion at the regional court in Munich March 13, 2014. A G

MUNICH (Reuters) - Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness should be sentenced to 5-1/2 years in jail for evading millions of euros in taxes, state prosecutor Achim von Engel said on Thursday at the end of a trial against the soccer manager.

Hoeness, who turned Bayern Munich into one of the world's most successful soccer clubs, has admitted he evaded 27.2 million euros in taxes but is hoping for leniency in one of the most closely watched tax evasion cases in German history.

The prosecutor rejected Hoeness's defense that he should not be subjected to a criminal conviction and prison because he voluntarily disclosed that he evaded German taxes on income earned in secret Swiss bank accounts over the last decade.

The prosecutor could have sought up to 10 years in jail for Hoeness, 62. The case hinges on the question whether Hoeness, who played for West Germany when it won the World Cup in 1974, fully cooperated in his voluntary disclosure.

Judge Rupert Heindl is expected to announce the verdict later on Thursday. The Hoeness case has shocked the nation and prompted thousands of German tax dodgers to turn themselves in.

Tax evasion is a serious crime in Germany. Peter Graf, the late father of tennis champion Steffi Graf, was sentenced in 1997 to three years and nine months in jail for evading 12.3 million marks (6.3 million euros). He was released after 25 months.

(Reporting by Jens Hack in Munich; Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Madeline Chambers)

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