Blatter and Platini accused of fraud: an “absurdity” according to their lawyers –

The trial of the two former strong men of world football is coming to an end before the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona. After a scathing indictment asking for a 20-month suspended prison sentence, the defense speaks.

In quick succession, the lawyers for the two defendants argued for the acquittal of former FIFA President Sepp Blatter, 86, and Michel Platini, 67, who was his personal adviser and then FIFA Vice-President and President. of UEFA. The strongest argument was delivered on Monday in Bellinzona by the Frenchman’s lawyer, Dominic Nellen, before the three judges of the Federal Criminal Court. His angle of attack: everything is absurd in the file of the Public Ministry of the Confederation.

The lawyer has long dismantled the accusation of fraud and forgery in the titles, where, according to him, there is only a stupid payment of an arrears of salary of two million francs in favor of Platini from Sepp Blatter when he was still at the helm of FIFA. And to be ironic about this “impossible crime”, where everything has been declared to social insurance and taxes: “Two crooks who secretly plan to rob a company to get rich would they really do it this way?” Asked the judges Dominic Nellen.

>> Read also: One year and eight months suspended prison sentence required against Platini and Blatter

Lack of motive denounced

For Sepp Blatter’s lawyer, Lorenz Erni, the prosecution case does not stand up either: “The accusation by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office is so absurd that it can be demonstrated in a few minutes that only the acquittal is possible”.

In a plea which nevertheless lasted two hours last Friday, he emphasized the absence of evidence brought by the prosecution to demonstrate that the oral contract between the two men in 1998 would only be a retroactively invented story to cover up. And that the retroactive payment of 2011 of the two million francs for settlement of any account would be based on a montage sewn with white thread.

But, above all, the defense of Sepp Blatter underlined the absence of motive put forward by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, accused of relying on intuitions, insinuations.

>> Read also: Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini reject all accusations

A case in the case

At the end of this trial which began on June 8, two completely opposite versions emerge between the prosecution and the defense on the facts, namely this initial story of a handshake between Blatter and Platini then a retroactive invoice of two million frank.

The role of FIFA and its current president Gianni Infantino, plaintiff in this trial, is also to be remembered. Michel Platini’s lawyer denounced his “aggressiveness” and spoke of “unspoken and shameful things for the Swiss legal order in this case”.

He refers to the conspiracy theory dear to Michel Platini, who wants the two million affair to have been used in 2015 to harm him and prevent him from taking over the reins of a FIFA then in the midst of a crisis and under investigation by the American and Swiss courts.

“Your court must therefore render a judgment which refuses the instrumentalization of the justice of our country by an institution like FIFA”, pleaded Dominic Nellen. Several disturbing clues were delivered during the trial on possible maneuvers in the summer of 2015 between the camp of Gianni Infantino and the Public Ministry of the Confederation.

A parallel criminal investigation is still ongoing into the secret meetings that followed between former attorney general Michael Lauber and Gianni Infantino. There is also the question of why the Federal Prosecutor’s Office focused on these two million francs, when the major investigations launched in 2015 were supposed to aim much wider and flush out corruption in the awarding of the World Cup to Russia. and in Qatar.

Today and possibly again tomorrow, the game of replies must make it possible to convince both the prosecution and the defense, with a judgment still awaited on July 8th.

Ludovic Rocchi

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