Swiss court acquits Michel Platini, Sepp Blatter of fraud
The acquittal comes after six years of investigation and two weeks of trial for fraud 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, July 8, in the case which shattered the ambitions of the Frenchman, who was approached in 2015 to assume the FIFA presidency.
The Federal Criminal Court of Bellinzona did not follow the requisitions of the prosecution, which had requested in mid-June respectively one year and eight months of a suspended prison sentence, below the five years of imprisonment that they incurred. The two men pleaded acquittal, claiming their innocence and seeing in this file a manipulation intended to remove them from power.
“I kept saying it – my fight is a fight against injustice. I won a first game. In this case, there are culprits who did not appear during this trial. Let them count on me, we will meet again because I will not give up and I will go all the way in my quest for truth.” - Sepp Blatter
The prosecution accused Platini and Blatter of having "illegally obtained, to the detriment of FIFA, a payment of 2 million Swiss francs" (1.8 million euros) "in favor of Michel Platini." Both men have always maintained that this was the settlement of an oral contract for consultancy work carried out by the Frenchman on behalf of FIFA.
The 66-year-old Frenchman and the 86-year-old Swiss risked up to 5 years in prison for "fraud", "unfair management", "breach of trust" and "false titles".
The Fifa ethics committee had banned them from football and removed them from office, and Blatter and Platini took their cases unsuccessfully to the Fifa appeals committee and later in separate appeals to the court of arbitration for sport.
Later on, Platini pledged he would be going after unspecified “culprits” who led to the case against him. “I wanted to express my happiness for all my loved ones that justice has finally been done after seven years of lies and manipulation,” he said. “The truth has come to light during this trial and I deeply thank the judges of the tribunal for the independence of their decision."
“I kept saying it – my fight is a fight against injustice. I won a first game. In this case, there are culprits who did not appear during this trial. Let them count on me, we will meet again because I will not give up and I will go all the way in my quest for truth.”
On his part, Blatter made a short statement in which he said, “I’m not speaking about Fifa, I’m not speaking about corruption, I’m speaking about me. I have done nothing wrong. I am clean with my conscious, I am clean in my spirit.”
A statement from Fifa said, “Fifa takes note of the verdict of the court regarding the case opened by the OAG [office of the attorney general] and will await the full reasoned judgement before commenting further.”