“It was an adventure. I can’t believe myself that I did it,” Kocer told a Berlin court, before admitting that peer pressure had led him to take part.
According to his testimony, the 23-year-old striker at second division Bundesliga club Erzgebirge Aue met two men in April while visiting former Babelsberg club-mate Süleyman Koc in Potsdam. The men told him that “they do this kind of thing,” and asked him whether he was in.
“I wasn’t averse to it,” the professional footballer admitted, but said he didn’t need the money. “I didn’t want to look like an idiot,” he said, and didn’t want to “wimp out.”
Kocer’s job was to “sit in the casino and give the okay with my mobile,” after scoping the place out with Koc. When the rest of the gang came and “shouted and broke open the machines,” Kocer said he “got scared,” ran to the toilet and locked himself in.
Kocer’s former team-mate Koc admitted he took part in five other robberies, either giving the signal for the robbery to start or acting as a getaway driver.
Altogether eight people are on trial in the case, charged with carrying out robberies in seven cafes, casinos and shops between February and April this year. The men are said to have made €20,000 altogether. The masked men sprayed employees with tear gas, or threatened them with swords and machetes. In some cases workers were hit.
All the gang-members have already signed written confessions.
Kocer has made his way up through Germany’s leagues in the past few seasons. After helping Babelsberg to reach the third division, he joined Erzgebirge Aue this season and has scored once in five appearances. He has also made one appearance for the Turkish under-21 team.