tried for fraud, Platini and Blatter acquitted in Switzerland

After six years of investigation and two weeks of trial for fraud in Switzerland, Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter were acquitted on Friday, in the case which shattered the ambitions of the Frenchman, tipped in 2015 to take the lead in world football.

In silence, the two defendants listened to the clerk read the judgment they had been calling for for years, when they faced five years in prison and the prosecution had requested in mid-June one year and eight months in prison with reprieve.

“A neutral court has finally found that no crime was committed in this case. My client is completely whitened and relieved as a result”commented Me Dominic Nellen, Michel Platini’s lawyer.

For his part, the ex-captain of the Blues rejoiced in a short press release to have “won a first match”, while once again alluding to political and judicial manipulation intended to remove him from power: “In this case, there are culprits who did not appear during this trial. Let them count on me, we will meet again”.

Michel Platini suspects in particular a hidden role of Gianni Infantino, his former right-hand man at UEFA elected in 2016 at the head of Fifa, and targeted since 2020 by a separate procedure for three secret meetings with the former head of the Swiss prosecution. .

“Gentlemen’s Agreement”

Failing to have succeeded in joining this component to the Bellinzona debates, the 67-year-old Frenchman and the 86-year-old Swiss appeared to have ” illegally obtained, to the detriment of Fifa, a payment of 2 million Swiss francs” (1.8 million euros) “in favor of Michel Platini”.

Defense and prosecution agreed on one point: the triple Ballon d’Or advised Sepp Blatter well between 1998 and 2002, during the latter’s first term at the head of Fifa, and the two men signed a contract in 1999 agreeing to an annual remuneration of 300,000 Swiss francs, fully paid by Fifa.

But in January 2011, the former midfielder – who in the meantime became UEFA President (2007-2015) – “enforced a claim of 2 million Swiss francs”, qualified as “false invoice” by the prosecution.

The two men hammered on their side that they had from the start decided on an annual salary of one million Swiss francs, by an oral “gentlemen’s agreement” and without witnesses, without the finances of Fifa not allow immediate payment to Michel Platini.

French “Worth His Million”had assured Sepp Blatter to the magistrates, before Michel Platini in turn described a negotiation so little formalized that he had not specified the motto: “Me for fun, I said + pesetas, liras, rubles, marks, it’s up to you +”told the legend of the Blues.

“Doubt” enough to acquit

In his submissions, the prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand had underlined the contradiction with the 1999 contract, the contrast with the usual practices of the body and more generally those of the world of work, and he especially exhumed audit reports from Fifa .

Even if the Zurich organization had paid Platini one million Swiss francs as early as 1999, it would still have had “more than 21 million francs in cash”reserves rose to 327 million in 2002, recalled the magistrate.

But the court found that the scam was not “not established with a likelihood bordering on certainty”thus applying the general principle of criminal law that “doubt must benefit the accused”.

The defense had also underlined in its pleading the absence of a clear motive for Sepp Blatter, to whom this case did not bring in a penny.

Cautiously, Thomas Hildbrand recalled the support given by Michel Platini and the UEFA executive committee to Blatter’s re-election to a fourth term at the end of May 2011.

“The question of whether this payment is in connection with the election must remain open, in the absence of convincing evidence”had recognized the prosecutor, leaving nevertheless to hover in the courtroom the shadow of corruption.


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