Prosecutor removes jail time in Blatter/Platini trial, opens new probe into $140m FIFA Museum

June 16 – Prosecutors in the criminal trial of former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and ex-Uefa boss Michel Platini have demanded both men be handed 20-month suspended prison sentences, accusing them of defrauding FIFA.

Blatter (pictured) and Platini have both vehemently denied any wrongdoing over the infamous CHF 2 million payment paid to the latter in 2011 with Blatter’s blessing.

Interestingly, the prosecution office’s demand is more lenient than many observers anticipated. Blatter and Platini could theoretically have been sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison if found guilty.

Giving evidence last week at the start of the trial, which followed an investigation that began in 2015 and lasted six years, Blatter said he had struck a “gentleman’s agreement” with Platini to pay him the money.

Blatter insists FIFA accounted for the payment properly while Platini has long claimed the allegations were a deliberate ploy to block him from campaigning to be FIFA president. Both were banned by FIFA over the case, bringing the careers of the two most powerful powerbrokers at the time crashing down.

Swiss prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand asked the three judges for Platini, who worked as a presidential adviser in Blatter’s first term between 1998 and 2002, to pay FIFA more than 2.2 million Swiss francs in compensation.

Hildbrand argued in court that agreeing on such a large of money without a written record, without witnesses and without provisioning it in the accounts was “contrary to commercial practices”.

Platini said in a statement published after the court session that he was “serene and confident”.

“The indictment of the prosecutor today is devoid of any basis,” Platini said. “The debates of the trial proved that this criminal procedure had no reason to exist.”

The case is due to run until June 22 with both FIFA – a civil party in the trial – and the defence both due to lay out their closing arguments.The Federal Criminal Court of Bellinzona will deliver its verdict on July 8.

In a separate move, Blatter’s legal position was plunged into more jeopardy when Zurich prosecutors confirmed to The Associated Press they had opened yet more criminal proceedings against him, this time over alleged mismanagement relating to the FIFA museum project in Zurich.

Blatter and his long-time right-hand man, disgraced former FIFA secretary general Jérôme Valcke – also banned from football several years ago over a different issue – are reportedly now formal suspects in the case.

FIFA want Zurich prosecutors to look at the $140 million renovation of the downtown museum, long seen as a pet project of Blatter that opened in 2016.

Lawyers for Blatter said 18 months ago the museum allegations are “baseless and are vehemently denied.”

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