Court Removes Prosecutor Investigating FIFA President, Infantino

FIFA President Gianni Infantino addresses the media during a press conference following the FIFA Council Meetings in Miami, Florida, on March 15, 2019. Infantino on Friday confirmed plans to launch an expanded 24-team Club World Cup in 2021 following a meeting in Miami. The new tournament, which has drawn threats of a boycott from leading European clubs, is to be staged in June-July 2021 instead of the Confederations Cup. RHONA WISE / AFP.
(File Photo) FIFA President Gianni Infantino addresses the media during a press conference following the FIFA Council Meetings in Miami, Florida, on March 15, 2019. RHONA WISE / AFP.

 

The prosecutor who was investigating FIFA president Gianni Infantino has been removed for public statements that were ‘biased’ against the head of world football’s governing body, a Swiss court announced on Wednesday. 

Stefan Keller opened an inquiry into Infantino in July 2020 over three informal meetings with the former head of the Swiss public prosecutor’s office (MPC). In March he started investigating Infantino’s use of a private jet paid for by FIFA.

Keller had not yet started formal proceedings in either case.

The Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona “admitted Gianni Infantino’s request for recusal against Stefan Keller” in a decision taken last Friday and published on its website on Wednesday.

The judgement centred on four press communications and a statement to a legal journal by Keller, which, the court said in its judgement, did not constitute “objective, neutral and correct information in the public interest”.

“It appeared obvious that there was not only the mere appearance of a possible bias, but that he was in fact biased towards the applicant,” said the decision.

In particular, Keller had noted in mid-December “indications” that the FIFA boss had been guilty of “unfair management” for using a private jet, funded by the body, to fly between Suriname and Switzerland in 2017.

FIFA was quick to welcome the ruling.

READ ALSO: Hertha Berlin Dismiss Jans Lehmann For Racist Comment

“Mr Keller had clearly violated the presumption of innocence and damaged the standing of the FIFA President, contrary to his personal rights protected under the law,” it said in a statement.

Keller rejected the accusation in the ruling that he “communicated misleading and factually incorrect information”.

Keller said in his own statement that he would discuss the further procedure with the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (AB-BA) and with the Judicial Commission.

“It must be clarified what effects the decision from Bellinzona will have on the various proceedings as well as the other parties involved,” said his statement.

The Swiss Federal Criminal Court has not yet examined FIFA’s request for the “nullity of the procedural acts carried out so far”.

Infantino was being investigated for “incitement to abuse authority”, “violation of official secrecy” and “obstruction of criminal proceedings”.

Keller was appointed as “extraordinary prosecutor” in July last year to investigate suspicions of collusion between FIFA and the former head of the MPC, Michael Lauber.

The investigations focused on three secret meetings held in 2016 and 2017 between Lauber and Infantino.

Lauber resigned last summer while FIFA’s internal justice system cleared Infantino.

The executive Infantino just wanted to show Lauber how much FIFA had changed since the “corrupt” rule of his predecessor Sepp Blatter.

AFP

Swiss Prosecutors Expand Investigation Into Former FIFA Chief, Sepp Blatter

A file photo of former FIFA chief, Sepp Blatter.
A file photo of former FIFA chief, Sepp Blatter.

 

Swiss prosecutors have opened a fresh investigation targeting former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter for suspected criminal mismanagement of funds over a decade-old $1 million payment, AFP learned Saturday.

The probe, opened last month, is connected with a loan FIFA gave to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFF) in 2010, which was given interest-free, with no collateral, and was quickly forgiven as a “subsidy”, a document seen by AFP showed.

This marks the latest in a string of allegations of improper FIFA-linked payments to Trinidad’s long-serving FIFA official Jack Warner, who has been banned from football for life and is battling extradition to the US from his native Trinidad.

The Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG) confirmed in a statement that it had in May this year “extended the criminal proceedings” against the former FIFA president.

It added that two other former high-level FIFA officials, former secretary general Jerome Valcke and ex-FIFA financial director Markus Kattner, were also targeted.

An OAG spokesperson meanwhile told AFP in an email that this was “not a new criminal proceeding against Joseph Blatter, it is in addition to the overall criminal proceedings against Joseph Blatter.”

The 84-year-old former FIFA chief himself told AFP that he had been “informed of the accusation, and I totally reject its content.”

The news of the fresh leg of the probe comes after the OAG last month shelved part of the procedure opened against Blatter in 2015 on “suspicion of unfair management and breach of trust”.

It closed part of the investigation against him involving TV rights sold allegedly below market value to the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), at the time headed by Warner.

OAG stressed Saturday that other aspects of the criminal proceedings “are not affected by the decision to discontinue” the TV rights part of the probe.

“The criminal proceedings against the accused will continue,” the OAG statement said.

Swiss prosecutors have already made clear that another investigation, into a payment of two million Swiss francs (1.88 million euros) to Michel Platini, the former UEFA president, and FIFA executive committee member, was ongoing.

Blatter’s payment to Platini led to both men being banned from football, although the Frenchman was cleared by the Swiss courts in 2018.

‘I Am A Victim,’ Says Sri Lankan President Amid Kidnap Saga

Sri Lanka’s President-elect Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrives to take oath of office during his swearing-in ceremony at the Ruwanwelisaya temple in Anuradhapura on November 18, 2019. Lakruwan WANNIARACHCHI / AFP

Sri Lanka president Gotabaya Rajapaksa said Thursday the alleged kidnapping of a Swiss embassy staffer which triggered a diplomatic spat between Colombo and Bern had been concocted to discredit his election victory.

A Sri Lankan national working for the Swiss mission in Colombo was arrested Monday for allegedly falsely claiming she had been abducted and sexually assaulted by unidentified attackers on November 25.

The alleged abduction happened a day after a Sri Lankan police inspector investigating cases involving the Rajapaksa family sought asylum in Switzerland.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa — who was elected president last month — told Colombo-based foreign correspondents Thursday that he was the real “victim” of the saga.

“In this case, the victim is me because immediately after my election, this story came up,” he said, giving details of the Swiss embassy staffer’s movements on the day she claimed she was held against her will.

“It is very clear it is a planned thing to discredit me and the government.”

Rajapaksa said he did not believe the Swiss embassy itself had any role in making the allegations and insisted he did not want anyone to create tensions between the two countries.

Switzerland on Monday criticised the embassy worker’s arrest and “lack of due process in the case”, and asked for evidence that she had faked her claims.

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis also spoke to his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena about the case, the foreign ministry said this week.

AFP

Swiss Police Confirm Identities Of Couple Buried In Glacier Since 1942

Swiss police confirmed on Wednesday the identity of a Swiss couple whose frozen remains were found on a shrinking glacier last week, and who had been missing for 75 years.

Marcellin and Francine Dumoulin, the parents of seven children, had gone to feed their cattle in a meadow in the Valais Canton on August 15, 1942.

Their bodies and belongings including food, a book, umbrella and backpack were found in a hole on Zanfleuron Glacier, on Glacier 3000, by an employee doing maintenance work last Thursday (July 13).

The disappearance of the 40-year-old shoemaker and his 37-year-old wife, a teacher, shocked the region.

All their sons are now dead. One of them spent a great part of his life desperately searching the glacier hoping to find the bodies of his parents.

The two daughters, Monique Gautschy-Dumoulin, 86, and Marceline Udry-Dumoulin, 79, are still alive.

For Monique, who was 11 when her parents went missing and still remembers details of that day, there is little relief in the discovery of their bodies, and the pain of their absence remains strong.

“25,300 and something days…I have counted and written on a bit of paper the number of days during which we missed our Mum and our Dad. These are things one can never ever forget. I’ll be able to forget only when I close my eyes for the last time,” Monique said.

Recalling the morning her parents left, she said, “The day they left, the weather was beautiful…You know, at that time, we didn’t have anything like a radio, or anything like we have today giving the weather forecast for a number of days. When they started climbing up the glacier, the weather was beautiful, until a huge cloud came when they were in the middle of the glacier…They were swallowed by this cloud.”

Glacier 3000 Director Bernhard Tschannen explained that the couple had fallen into a crevasse in the glacier, adding that Francine had gone out with her husband for the first time that day.

“So for the first time, the wife went with the husband, because before she was always pregnant, she had seven kids, and we believe that they were walking either in direction of Bern (Swiss capital) or coming back and that they fell into a crevasse,” he said.

“Then, at that time, the glacier was much bigger than now, and, to imagine, in winter time, we have 5, 6 meters of fresh snow on the glacier. So, in the last years, the glacier shrunk a bit. This is now why 75 years later, two bodies came out on the glacier and it took so much time because they were very deep in the glacier inside.”

The pair were among 280 people listed as missing in the Alps or rivers of the Valais canton since 1925, according to the police who expect to find more bodies as the glaciers melt.

Nadal Beats Dimitrov 6-4 4-6 6-3 As Wawrinka Crashes Out

nadalSpain’s Rafael Nadal has advanced to the quarter-finals of the Basel International, with a 6-4 4-6 6-3 victory over Grigor Dimitrov.

Nadal who had earlier beaten Lukas Rosol in the first round, dug deep to defeat his Bulgarian opponent, despite dropping the second set.

Second seed, Stan Wawrinka, won the first set against big serving Croatian, Ivo karlovic, but was beaten 3-6 7-6 6-4 as Karlovic used his combination of aces and powerful forehands against the Swiss.

Wawrinka could not rely on his trademark, backhand, to save him, with Karlovic winning the tiebreak in the second set to level the score and go on to win the third set 6-4 with three straight aces to finish.

Ferguson promises to redeem champions’ league glory

Sir Alex Ferguson has promised Manchester United fans and ardent followers that last season’s champions’ league campaign of the Red Devils which he qualified to be disastrous will never replay itself again.

Going back a few months ago before Chelsea was crowned the new European champion, Manchester United got eliminated from the competition at the group stage after losing to Swiss side Basel, and that capped off a poor performance in their group, meanwhile the then-defending English Premier League champions were tagged favourites to lead the group, with Benfica and Romanian newcomers Otelul Galati the other teams in their pool.

The Red Devils had previously reached the final in three of the previous four editions of the tournament.

Sir Ferguson has however sent a warning message to Europe that United will not make the same mistakes again in 2012/13, that the club is ready to take back its place because the few year the club has not move far in the champions’ league competition was used an opportunity to groom the young ones coming in the line-up of the club even though last season was the worst of it because changes that were made to the team was just too much and lessons has been learnt from that mistake. He said.

Where we realised our mistake was the game against Basel at home as we could only get a draw due to our careless as we could have gone ahead to seal the game .

Ferguson is confident he has a squad capable of emulating the united teams of 1999 and 2008 by delivering another Champions League crown to Old Trafford next season.