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From Wednesday and until June 22, Michel Platini and the ex-president of Fifa Sepp Blatter appear in Switzerland for “fraud”. At the center of the case: a suspicious payment which has placed them since 2015 on the ban of world football.
After six years of an investigation haunted by suspicions of conspiracy, the trial of Michel Platini and the ex-president of Fifa Sepp Blatter opened on Wednesday June 8 in Switzerland, in the case of suspicious payment which has shattered their career in 2015.
In silence, the 66-year-old Frenchman and the 86-year-old Swiss attended the procedural battle which launched the hearing before the Federal Criminal Court of Bellinzona (south-east), for “fraud”, “unfair management”, “breach of trust” and “false headlines”.
“I am very confident”, assured only a few journalists Sepp Blatter, before rushing into the Ticino jurisdiction until June 22, for a decision expected on July 8.
He only spoke again at the end of the hearing to report his fatigue, while his precarious health, after a heart operation and then a long hospitalization in early 2021, caused the trial to be held only in the morning.
Without explaining themselves for the time being on the merits of the case, the defendants saw Platini’s defense attempt to broaden the framework, to include a separate procedure targeting since 2020 the current president of Fifa Gianni Infantino.
Should we debate only the invoice of 2 million Swiss francs (1.8 million euros) presented by the French in 2011 and validated by Blatter, as argued by the prosecution? Or a conspiracy to remove the triple Ballon d’Or from the race for the presidency of Fifa, which seemed to him promised when the affair broke out in 2015, by instrumentalizing justice?
“There is a direct link” between the suspicions of fraud against Platini, president of UEFA at the time, and several secret meetings between Infantino and the former head of the Swiss prosecution, assured Me Dominic Nellen, one of his attorneys.
But prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand brushed aside any relationship between the two files, before Fifa lawyer Me Catherine Hohl-Chirazi, does not denounce a “conspiracy theory” advanced “again and again” to evade the substance of the accusations.
And the three magistrates followed this logic, refusing to join the cases and refocusing the debates, which will resume Thursday morning, on the payment granted to Michel Platini with the endorsement of Sepp Blatter.
The Frenchman, who is expected to speak in court on Thursday, “is positive and impatient” to see the hearings of witnesses open, said at the end of the hearing Mr.e Nellen.
Defense and prosecution agree on one point: Platini advised Sepp Blatter well between 1998 and 2002, during the latter’s first term as head of Fifa, and the two men signed a contract in 1999 agreeing to remuneration annual fee of 300,000 Swiss francs, fully paid by Fifa.
But in January 2011, “more than eight years after the end of his activity as an adviser”, the ex-captain of the Blues “claimed a claim of 2 million Swiss francs”, paid by the football body “with the competition” by Sepp Blatter, notes the prosecution.
For the prosecution, it is an unjustified payment, obtained by misleading “artfully” the internal controls of Fifa by false assertions of the two leaders, the key criterion of the scam.
The two men insist on their side that they had from the start decided on an annual salary of one million Swiss francs, orally and without witnesses, without the finances of Fifa allowing immediate payment to Michel. Platinum.
They will nevertheless have to explain the contradiction with the 1999 contract, the fact that this debt has never been provisioned by Fifa, and the contrast with the usual practices of the body, which has never remunerated an employee or consultant. “without a written basis”, assured his former HRD in the disciplinary part of the procedure.
As a civil party, Fifa intends to be reimbursed for the salary and social charges paid in 2011, “so that the money embezzled by the defendants for personal purposes is returned to the one and only purpose for which it was intended: football”, indicated before the hearing Me Hohl-Chirazi, litigation attorney.