By Samindra Kunti
September 21 – Brooklyn federal prosecutors have asked for an anonymous and semi-sequestered jury in the upcoming trial of three former South American football executives, but Jose Maria Marin and his lawyers are challenging that motion. Marin faces trial on November 6.
The former president of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) has been charged in the FIFA scandal and stands accused of racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. He has been living executives under house arrest in New York having been arrested in May 2015 in Zurich and then extradited to the US.
He is one of three remaining defendants who are still pleading not guilty to charge. The others are Juan Angel Napout, the former head of the South American Football Confederation, CONMEBOL and a former FIFA vice president, and Manuel Burga, the former president of the Peruvian Football Federation, the FPF. The three defendants have allegedly used their position in the game to take bribes connected with the award of media and marketing rights, in Marin’s case the Copa do Brasil, the Copa America and the Copa Libertadores.
Lawyers for acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rohde said the widespread press attention to the case raises the risk that if the jurors’ identities are made public, it could impair their ability to act impartially.
Prosecutors also claimed that there have been several instances of attempted obstruction of justice and witness intimidation, pointing to a sealed filing which allegedly contains examples of such conduct. Napout is believed to have tried to remove several electronic devices from CONMEBOL’s headquarters.
“The Second Circuit has long recognised that anonymous juries are often necessary to protect the integrity of a trial and to ensure an impartial jury and, when properly used, do not infringe a defendant’s constitutional rights,” prosecutors said in a court filing.
A lawyer for Marin, Charles A. Stillman, confirmed they will be filing papers opposing the government’s jury anonymity bid. Marin and his lawyer argue the motion is “too drastic a measure” and that “nothing supports the notion that Marin is a danger or threat…”
The incumbent CBF president Marco Polo Del Nero has also been charged with corruption allegations and is, but he no longer travels outside of Brazil in order to avoid arrest.
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