US law enforcers set FifaGate trial date for November 2017

September 20 – US federal prosecutors have set a provisional date of November 6 next year for the start of the FifaGate corruption scandal trial, with as many as seven defendants reportedly considering switching their pleas to guilty. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Evan Norris didn’t name the defendants involved at a hearing on Monday before U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen.

In total, 42 individuals and entities have been charged in the wide-ranging case that has rocked world football’s governing body, with 16 having already pleaded guilty, many of them one-time senior FIFA voices.

Of those set to go on trial next year as part of the U.S.-led investigation that has especially damaged the image of CONMEBOL and CONCACAF, from where almost all of those charged come, Norris told the hearing: “We are in ongoing plea discussions with several of these defendants.”

Those charged are accused of participating in schemes involving more than $200 million in bribes and kickbacks stretching back over 20 years relating to marketing and broadcast rights to tournaments and matches.

The eight defendants facing potential trial include former Brazilian FA boss Jose Maria Marin of Brazil – one of the original Zurich Seven arrested during the dramatic May 2015 raids on the Baur au Lac hotel by Swiss police working on behalf the US authorities  – Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay, Eduardo Li of Costa Rica and Julio Rocha of Nicaragua.

The others are Traffic sports marketing executive Aaron Davidson, former Guatamalan secretary-General Hector Trujillo, former Cayman Islands soccer official Costas Takkas and ex-Venezuelan soccer official Rafael Esquivel.

Norris said new evidence continues to flow in, including 24 binders full of documents which Swiss authorities provided last week.

While Chen set November 2017 for when any trial would begin, she cautioned that the date could be adjusted if any new defendants are charged or if fresh charges are added to those already accused of alleged wrongdoing.

The plan to try all eight defendants together is expected to be challenged by lawyers for Napout, Takkas, Marin and Rocha, according to agency reports.

“Mr. Napout’s speedy trial rights are being severely hampered,” said John Pappalardo, representing the former Paraguayan FA president.

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