US judge pushes corruption trial date back as ‘discovery’ continues

By Andrew Warshaw

April 19 – The US federal judge overseeing football’s sweeping corruption scandal is reported to have conceded that February next year will be too early to start proceedings.

Prosecutors had proposed what they described as an “aggressive but achievable” schedule to begin the process of sentencing a raft of disgraced powerbrokers snared by the massive corruption investigation.

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.

But Judge Raymond Dearie has now indicated that February will be too early.

“As anxious as I am to move the case forward toward trial, ongoing discovery and related complications, including the relatively recent arrival of some defendants, make the selection of a trial date unrealistic at this time,” he was quoted as saying. The setting of a new trial date would be “revisited” after June, he added.

Nine criminal defendants in the case, including the most notorious of them all, Trinidad’s former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, have yet to be extradited from their current locations and no reliable timeline has reportedly been set for those proceedings to occur.

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