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Ecclestone goes on trial in Germany

(AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

MUNICH (AP) Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone rejected accusations of bribery as he went on trial Thursday in a case that could threaten his grip on the sport, telling a Munich court that he was blackmailed by a German banker who received a disputed $44 million payment.

Ecclestone said at the beginning of a four-hour personal statement read out in German by his lawyers that he was "grateful" to be able to give his side of the story - though he told judges that he would answer questions from the Munich state court through his lawyers, rather than personally.

The 83-year-old Ecclestone is charged with bribery and incitement to breach of trust, and could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. The charges involve a $44 million payment to banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, who is serving an 8 1/2-year sentence for taking the money. Ecclestone appeared in court in a dark three-piece suit and followed the proceedings closely with help from an interpreter whispering into his ear.

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Formula 1 Leaders: Points
RankDriverPointsWins
1 N.Rosberg 79 1
2 L.Hamilton 75 3
3 F.Alonso 41 0
4 N.Hulkenberg 36 0
5 S.Vettel 33 0
6 D.Ricciardo 24 0
7 V.Bottas 24 0
8 J.Button 23 0
9 K.Magnussen 20 0
10 S.Perez 18 0
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Formula 1 Leaders: Wins
RankDriverWins
1 L.Hamilton 3
2 N.Rosberg 1
3 F.Alonso 0
4 N.Hulkenberg 0
5 S.Vettel 0
6 D.Ricciardo 0
7 V.Bottas 0
8 J.Button 0
9 K.Magnussen 0
10 S.Perez 0
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