By Andrew Warshaw
February 18 – Paris St Germain supremo Nasser Al-Khelaifi has hit back at the decision by Swiss prosecutors to appeal his acquittal on accusations of aggravated criminal mismanagement regarding the allocation of World Cup TV rights.
In a strongly worded statement released through his lawyers to Insideworldfootball, the beIN Media boss does not mince his words in denouncing the process undertaken by the Swiss judicial authorities as a “desperate move”.
Al-Khelaifi was found not guilty last October following a high-profile 10-day trial that gripped world football politics during which he appeared alongside banned former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke.
At the same trial, Valcke was acquitted of accepting bribes and criminal mismanagement while he served under Sepp Blatter from 2007-15 but was found guilty of a lesser charge of forging documents linked to World Cup broadcasting deals in Italy and Greece.
Prosecutors had called for suspended jail terms for both men and for a third defendant, Greek businessman Dinos Deris who was found not guilty on a charge of “private corruption”.
The Swiss Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPC) has now “filed a statement of appeal” to seek “the conviction of the three accused”, but Al-Khelaifi’s legal team believe the appeal is flawed, privately describing it as total nonsense designed to drag their client into the case for pure publicity purposes.
In their statement to IWF, they said: “We will not merit this latest desperate move by the prosecution with any detailed comment whatsoever.
“However, for the avoidance of any doubt, we will state the obvious:- our client was fully acquitted in October, after the most exhaustive 4 year investigation, the most comprehensive 2 week trial, and where the prosecution presented every shred of evidence and put forward every possible theory, but proved nothing. Absolutely nothing has changed since October, either in fact or in law – hence we will not comment further.”
To add spice to the case, it is understood that Al-Khelaifi is considering a counter-appeal against the original ruling because even though he was acquitted, his team were asked to pay notional costs.
Sources close to the process suggest Deris has already done this in the last 24 hours. If so it would represent another potential kick in the teeth for the Swiss judicial authorities whose credibility has been undermined in recent months over their handling of football-related investigations, not least the Michael Lauber affair and the former Swiss attorney general’s dealings with FIFA boss Gianni Infantino.
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