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F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges

Bernie Ecclestone, center, the 83-year-old controlling business magnate in Formula One racing, sits in a car on his way to the regional court in Munich , Germany, Thurstay, April 24, 2014. Ecclestone is charged with bribery and incitement to breach of trust "in an especially grave case" over a US$ 44 million payment to a German banker,

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

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