New twist in Pogba extortion probe, with brother’s videos

FILE - Soccer players Mathias Pogba, left, Paul Pogba pose for photographers upon arrival at the MTV European Music Awards 2017 in London, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP, File)

PARIS (AP) — A police investigation into allegations that France soccer star Paul Pogba was targeted by extortionists took a bizarre new twist Friday with the release by one of the suspects, his elder brother Mathias, of a long string of videos taking aim at the 2018 World Cup winner, his entourage and wealthy lifestyle.

More than 30 videos of Mathias Pogba reading face-to-camera from a statement many pages long were posted on Twitter.

It wasn’t clear exactly when the videos were filmed. But it may have been before Mathias Pogba turned himself in for police questioning last week. He has reportedly been held in custody since.

His lawyer did not immediately respond to a series of questions by The Associated Press.

Recording the videos appears to have been a time-consuming exercise, because Mathias Pogba wore three different T-shirts.

“If you are watching this video that will be because my brother Paul Pogba has found a way to silence me,” Mathias Pogba claimed in the first of the series. “I record this video so that whatever happens, everything is revealed.”

The words “insurance video, held in a safe place” were written on top of many of the videos. They followed through on previous social media posts where Mathias Pogba had threatened to make explosive revelations about his brother, who plays for Juventus following his exit from Manchester United.

Mathias Pogba and four others were handed preliminary charges last Saturday and jailed in the extortion probe, French prosecutors have said.

In the latest series of recordings, Mathias Pogba accused his multi-millionaire brother of having abandoned members of their family, leaving them in poverty.

He also claimed that the midfielder mixed with criminals and he repeated claims that Paul Pogba employed a witch doctor. He did not bring any proof to substantiate his accusations.

According to Mathias Pogba’s latest claims, the witch doctor is close to former France international Alou Diarra, and Paul Pogba was introduced to him by former PSG defender Serge Aurier.

He said that over the years the France midfielder has spent millions of euros for the services of the witch doctor, asking him for instance to help France win the 2018 World Cup or to cast spells on rival footballers.

Mathias Pogba had previously said that his brother had targeted Kylian Mbappé without being more specific. In his latest videos, he claimed that Paul Pogba asked the witch doctor to “neutralize” Mbappé for the return leg of a Champions League match between PSG and Manchester United back in 2019. United had won that game 3-1 to advance to the quarterfinals.

The videos were also accompanied by a series of Twitter posts and a statement addressed to Paul Pogba. The first post in the long thread said it had been sent automatically by “my bot.”

“That also means that I am no longer free,” the message read.

Mathias Pogba said his life is now in danger because his brother has “betrayed his henchmen,” who are taking aim at his entourage in retribution. Mathias Pogba said that some of his relatives “have already been assaulted and shot at” because of his brother.

The Paris prosecutor’s office opened an investigation last month into allegations that Paul Pogba — who scored one of France’s goals in the 2018 World Cup final — was the target of an extortion plot by his brother and childhood friends demanding 13 million euros ($13 million) from him. Mathias Pogba has denied taking part in the scheme.

According to broadcaster RTL, which quoted the police investigation report, the group of people took advantage of the player’s money for years, benefiting for instance of investments worth hundreds of thousands of euros in a burger restaurant. RTL reported on its website that the threats and demands for 13 million euros allegedly started when Paul Pogba decided to stop the money at the end of January this year.

Mathias Pogba had a modest soccer career as a forward with lower-tier teams in England and other European countries.