Expert slams Swiss prosecutor and criminal court

Former Swiss FIFA official Urs Linsi (right) and his lawyers signing documents during a trial at the Federal Criminal Court last month. Keystone/Samuel Golay

Switzerland’s attorney general is facing renewed calls to resign over accusations that his office botched up a high-profile international football trial.

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The criticism against Michael Lauber comes as a five-year statute of limitations to secure convictions against former officials of the German Football Association and a former Swiss official of the Zurich-based world football governing body (FIFA) expired on Monday.

The four suspects allegedly misled the authorities about a CHF10 million ($10.3 million) payment linked to the 2006 World Cup hosted by Germany.

The four men denied any wrongdoing and Lauber has defended the handling of the case, which was suspended by the Federal Criminal Court last month amid government instructions for people older than 65 to avoid contact following the coronavirus outbreak.

In an interview with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper on Monday, renowned law professor and anti-corruption campaigner Mark Pieth described the outcome as a setback for the criminal justice system which “could damage Switzerland’s reputation”.

Pieth said Lauber should not be allowed to “sit out” the current four-year term of office.

Last September, parliament re-elected Lauber for a third term following months of controversy over his handling of an investigation into corruption in world football.

The attorney general’s office told the Reuters news agency that it regretted that the “no judicial assessment cold be made” in the case of the four football officials.

The Swiss court said the trial had not officially ended and judges would have to rule on the next steps.



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