By Andrew Warshaw
November 16 – The drama of the FifaGate corruption scandal trial in New York has taken a tragic turn with a one-time Argentine government official taking his own life just hours after being accused of bribery.
Jorge Delhon, a lawyer who worked in the administration of former Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, killed himself on Tuesday by jumping in front of a train in Buenos Aires.
Delhon, a 52-year-old father of four, worked for Football for All, a government programme which held the rights to football broadcasts in Argentina.
Although he was not one of those charged, Delhon and another official Pablo Paladino had been accused in court by indicted former sports marketing executive Alejandor Burzaco of taking $2 million each in payments in exchange for broadcast rights. Delhon was alleged to have accepted $500,000 per year from 2011-2014.
Burzaco initially went on the run but ended up turning himself in to the authorities and struck a plea bargain deal with American prosecutors. He has already pleaded guilty to handing out millions of dollars in bribes to a raft of senior officials and is a key witness in a trial that is expected to take six weeks and centres on three former top South American football officials at the forefront of the corruption scandal: Jose Maria Marin, former head of the Brazilian FA; Juan Ángel Napout, former Fifa vice-president; and Manuel Braga, who led Peru’s federation until 2014. All three deny multiple counts of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering.
A government official in Buenos Aires told The Associated Press that Delhon left a suicide note to his family in which he wrote: “I love you all. I can’t believe (what’s happening).”
Paladino, who was the coordinator of state-run ‘Fútbol Para Todos’, (Football for All) programme, which broadcast first and second division Argentine football matches between 2009 and mid-2017, rejected the accusations made by Burzaco and defended Delhon’s reputation.
“Jorge Delhon was an honorable man,” Paladino told a media briefing. “He took the subway or the train to go to work, and a shameless man like Burzaco made us lose him,” Paladino charged, claiming Burzaco deliberately lied about the pair taking bribes in an attempt to improve his own legal situation.
“Perhaps he (Delhon) was distressed when he felt he was not protected by the rule of law. He was a family man who always worked hard and could not stand to see himself branded as a criminal.”
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