Like boxers eager to do battle in the ring, Nasser Al-Khelaïfi’s lawyers were keen, on Wednesday March 9, to respond, point by point, to the severe charge launched the day before by the Swiss federal prosecutor Cristina Castellote . The latter requested a twenty-eight month prison sentence against the president of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and BeIn Media Group, without matching it with a partial reprieve, for the head of “instigation to unfair management aggravated”.
Counsel for Mr. Al-Khelaïfi – acquitted at first instance in October 2020 – pleaded for release on the last day of his appeal trial before the Federal Criminal Court (TPF), in Bellinzona (Switzerland).
They tried to demonstrate that the Qatari leader had not acquired in 2013, against 5 million euros, a villa in Sardinia, of which the Frenchman Jérôme Valcke, former secretary general of the International Football Federation (FIFA) has had, for eighteen months, “exclusive use”in return for the allocation, in 2014, to the Qatari groups Al-Jazeera and BeIN of the media rights for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.
In his argument, Grégoire Mangeat first attacked the Public Prosecutor of the Confederation (MPC), emphasizing that“A criminal prosecution authority should never allow the desire for trophy to arise within it” and “Criminal justice should never be a hunt”.
“Benefits are not bribes”
The Qatari’s lawyer accused the prosecution of “try to smear” his client “ by instilling the poison of suspicion on documents that the MPC has chosen to present only at the time of its indictment before the judges of first instance ” Where “because Mr. Al-Khelaïfi would not have been prosecuted for disciplinary action by FIFA” after the opening of criminal proceedings against him in 2017.
While recalling that the instruction of the MPC focused for three years “on the offense of private corruption”Mr. Mangeat denounced “the beginning of the recovery operation” of the MPC. Which, “on the first day of the final auditions” from Qatari, in December 2019, “has decided to summon the crime of unfair management in its investigation by means of an in extremis notification of extension of the instruction”.
While in 2020 FIFA withdrew its “private corruption” complaint against Mr Al-Khelaïfi after sealing an amicable agreement with him, Mr Mangeat claims that “the instruction establishes fairly quickly” that the 2014 contract between BeIN, “whose position is monopolistic on the relevant market”and FIFA “is fantastic” (480 million euros) and “is not tainted by a pact of corruption”.
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