BELLINZONA: The lawyer for ex-German federation president Theo Zwanziger is threatening a formal complaint against the Swiss judge in charge of the trial of Bellinzona of four former senior world football bosses.
The trial of Theo Zwanziger, Horst R Schmidt, Wolfgang Niersbach and Urs Linsi opened formally on Monday but was immediately adjourned for two days because only Swiss businessman Linsi attended.
The other three – all German – submitted justifications for their absence on health grounds.
Judge Sylvia Frei said that the absences could not be excused, that any concern over coronavirus restrictions could have been met by the defenders travelling by private car.
This upset Zwanziger and Hans-Jorg Metz, his lawyer.
Metz, in a media statement, said he was considering registering a criminal complaint “against the presiding judge and possibly the other members of the panel”
The justification was that Zwanziger was not absent because of coronavirus concerns but because he was still in convalescence after eye surgery and was not being cleared to travel for “an indefinite period”.
Metz added: “An overall assessment of the situation makes it clear that the court, with manifestly illegal and arbitrary orders, either wants to force my client to appear at the expense of his health and at the risk of shortening his life, or on the other hand, the loss of his procedural rights.”
Zwanziger is a former president of the DFB, Schmidt is a former general secretary and Niersbach was communications director of the 2006 organising operation and later chief executive then president of the DFB. Linsi was general secretary of world federation FIFA.
The four deny charges relating to a controversial $10m payment from the late Robert Louis-Dreyfus, then ceo of Adidas. The sum was loaned to the World Cup bidding committee but ultimately repaid out of organisational support funds by FIFA – not to Louis-Dreyfus but to Mohamed bin Hammam, then the president of the Asian confederation.
The defendants, in any case, are expected to object to the trial going ahead in the absence of Franz Beckenbauer, the 2006 bid and organising president, who has been excluded from the process because of ill health.
The court has set aside three weeks for the trial but prosecutors face a race against time: if the case is not concluded before April 27 it will fall because of a statute of limitations.