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Swiss MPs reappoint top prosecutor despite FIFA probe

The Swiss parliament on Wednesday narrowly voted to extend the mandate of the attorney general, despite the suspicion of misconduct in his handling of the massive corruption investigation targeting FIFA.

With 129 out of a possible 243 parliamentary votes in favour, Michael Lauber saw his mandate renewed for an additional four years come January.

The parliament’s judiciary commission had earlier this month recommended not handing the 53-year-old prosecutor a second term after investigators opened a disciplinary investigation looking into a series of secret meetings that he had with FIFA president Gianni Infantino in the midst of a corruption probe into football’s world governing body.

That recommendation came after the Swiss Federal Criminal Court ruled in June that he had committed professional misconduct by failing to report and document several meetings with Infantino, and ordered him to recuse himself from the case.

Two Lauber-Infantino meetings were exposed last year by “Football Leaks”, a cross-border investigation by several European news organisations.

The body that oversees Lauber’s office, known as the AS-MPC, has said that those two 2016 contacts, held shortly after Infantino took charge of FIFA from the disgraced Sepp Blatter, were “not problematic”.

But during the inquiry into those two meetings, Lauber told the oversight body that he had had no other informal contacts with Infantino.

Then Swiss media reported a third Lauber-Infantino meeting in January 2017.

Switzerland’s FIFA investigation concerns alleged misconduct that occurred before Infantino replaced Blatter in 2016.

Lauber’s office has steadfastly defended the Infantino meetings, insisting they were logistically necessary given the scope of the FIFA graft probe.

Switzerland has pursued a number of cases since a raid on a luxury hotel in Zurich in May 2015 led to the arrests of several FIFA executives and exposed a corrupt underbelly in world football.

 

Source: AFP

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