Switzerland confirms two new special prosecutors to revive Infantino criminal investigation

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By Paul Nicholson

Dec.16 – The Swiss Federal Assembly has confirmed the appointment of two senior judges to continue the criminal investigation into FIFA President Gianni Infantino and his dealings with former Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber.

Ulrich Weder and Hans Maurer will take over the investigation after it was suspended following FIFA’s successful withdrawal of special prosecutor Stefan Keller’s case.

FIFA argued that Keller had extended his investigation beyond his remit and had issued “malicious and defamatory” press releases that showed “extreme bias”.

Keller’s dismissal did not kill the criminal case, however, which for many people strikes at the heart of the integrity and credibility of the Swiss judicial system and FIFA’s relationship with the country.

Weder and Maurer both have experience as special prosecutors and have been recommended by the Swiss Judicial Commission. The appointment of two prosecutors is unusual but reflects the pressure that FIFA was able to exert on Swiss justice. The Judicial Commission, in recommending two prosecutors, said the process will allow for more efficient handling of the case. This will, of course, ensure greater oversight and integrity of the investigation in the event of undue influence.

Their election to the roles was approved by all Swiss parliamentary groups in a landslide vote on their nominations – Weder has 189 votes and Maurer 188.

They will now resume an investigation into Infantino which was officially opened on July 30, 2020.

The criminal complaint against Infantino refers to three undocumented meetings between the FIFA boss and former Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber in 2016 and 2017. Lauber is also under investigation.

The suspicion is that Infantino was seeking information about investigations into FIFA and its former executives, potentially with the intention of influencing the course of those investigations. Rumor has it that Lauber also received information from Infantino regarding the ‘unfair’ payment of CHF 2m sanctioned by former FIFA president Sepp Blatter to former Infantino UEFA boss Michel Platini.

This case is currently awaiting a hearing date. Infantino has always maintained that he was only running for the FIFA presidency as an ‘alternate’ for Platini. However, Platini’s investigation effectively ensured that he could never take that spot.

Lauber is suspected of abuse of power, violation of official secrecy and favouritism. Also indicted in this case are the former intelligence officer of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Confederation (MPC) André Marty and the prosecutor of Haut-Valais, Rinaldo Arnold, a childhood friend of Infantino.

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