Time for justice: US judge promises trial dates for football’s bad boys

Scales of justice

April 14 – The US federal judge overseeing the sweeping football corruption scandal says he will rule within days on a prospective trial time scale after state prosecutors set a target of February next year to begin the process of sentencing a raft of disgraced powerbrokers snared by the massive corruption investigation.

Prosecutors have proposed what they call an “aggressive but achievable” schedule that would work towards jury selection starting on February 27, 2017, in New York.

With eight defendants having pleaded not guilty and extradition requests pending for another nine who have not yet been brought to court – not least the notorious Jack Warner – that may prove over-optimistic. But prosecutors are reported to be anxious to start processing cases against those already bailed sooner rather than later in order to avoid risking having charges dropped through lack of progress.

Under the proposed schedule, evidence would have to be submitted to the court by June 30 of this year, to give both defence and prosecution attorneys time to prepare their cases. All told, 42 individuals and entities – mostly from the Americas – have been charged, with 15 having so far pleaded guilty to receiving tens of millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.

Judge Raymond Dearie said at a hearing Wednesday he had an obligation to get the process moving since eight defendants under house arrest in the United States were under “considerable restraint” away from home and presumed innocent. “I will have an order out before the end of the week,” he said, with reference to setting a trial date.

Six defendants attended the hearing, including former Brazilian powerbroker Jose Maria Marin, former Costa Rican Football Federation president Eduardo Li and ex-CONMEBOL vice-president Rafael Esquivel.

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