KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: FIFA and president Gianni Infantino has won the latest round in the saga over his discussions with the former Swiss Attorney-General Michael Lauber.
A special investigator, Stefan Keller, was appointed in 2020 to follow up a formal complaint about secret meetings five years ago between Lauber and the newly-elected world federation supremo.
Infantino and FIFA complained long and loud that the investigation was a witch hunt, a fishing trip, and that they were being wrongly denied knowledge of its precise nature. Those complaints were rejected. However the Federal Criminal Court did rule later that Keller has compromised his own investigation by spreading his inquiries too far and wide.
Now Keller has been removed from the investigation altogether.
A FIFA statement said:
FIFA and FIFA President Gianni Infantino welcome the decision of the Swiss Federal Criminal Court (FCC) to remove Stefan Keller from his position as extraordinary Federal Prosecutor.
The FCC emphatically declared that the bias of Mr Keller, as demonstrated by his various media releases, repeated procedural errors, and consistent denial of rights, could not guarantee a fair process.
In particular, the FCC stated that by attempting to look into matters that had nothing to do with his mandate and then publicly raising his own personal suspicions about them without any objective justification, Mr Keller had clearly violated the presumption of innocence and damaged the standing of the FIFA President, contrary to his personal rights protected under the law.
The FCC underlined that for a public prosecutor to communicate distorting, injurious, misleading and factually incorrect information, as well as mere polemics and propaganda, is plainly inadmissible.
The FCC further noted that every party has the right to have his or her case decided by an impartial, unbiased and unprejudiced judge, acting in accordance with the principles of fairness and good faith.
Given his pattern of conduct, in particular with regard to his various media communications, Mr Keller did not satisfy even these most basic of legal standards.
Taken as a whole, the impression was created that Mr Keller was preoccupied with casting himself in a positive light and engaged in one-sided reporting to the detriment of the FIFA President.
The FCC found that, contrary to Mr Keller’s claims, this had nothing to do with objective communication that might have been justified in the public interest.
It was against this background that Mr Keller was removed from his position and ordered to pay the sum of CHF 5,000 to the FIFA President, to cover the costs of the proceedings.
As previously and consistently communicated, both FIFA and the FIFA President are fully available to cooperate with the authorities, whether that concerns meetings that the FIFA President had with the former Attorney General of Switzerland, or anything else.