FIFA bribery suspect Figueredo to be extradited to Uruguay
ZURICH (AP) – Former FIFA vice president Eugenio Figueredo will be extradited to his native Uruguay instead of the United States, though he won’t avoid prosecution for allegedly getting American citizenship through fraud.
Switzerland’s justice ministry said Friday it gave priority to the request from Uruguay, which also has long-running investigations into bribery and corruptly-awarded soccer broadcasting rights.
“However, they cover more soccer tournaments than the US investigations,” the Swiss government said in a statement.
Figueredo, now 83, was also indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice in May after he “falsely stated that he had severe dementia” to avoid English language and civics tests when he got American citizenship in 2006.
“Uruguay would also be able to prosecute Figueredo on suspicion of having acquired US citizenship fraudulently,” the Swiss ministry said, adding this would be done “at the request of the US authorities.”
“This means that Figueredo could be tried in Uruguay for all of the offences of which he is accused. In the USA, the prosecution would cover only some of the charges,” the statement said.
The American indictment charges Figueredo with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering, linked to bribery in the award of marketing rights for tournaments including the Copa America. He faces a 20-year jail sentence.
The former president of South American soccer body CONMEBOL was arrested on May 27 at the Baur au Lac hotel and detained since in a Zurich-area jail.
Figueredo was arrested two days before his term on the FIFA executive committee expired.
Another indicted FIFA official, Eduardo Li, was arrested in May two days before his executive committee mandate formally started.
On Friday, the Swiss justice ministry said Li was extradited to the U.S., one week after withdrawing his appeal against being sent.
“He (Li) was handed over to two US police officers in Zurich, who accompanied him on the flight to New York,” the statement said.
Li was suspended by FIFA and ousted as president of Costa Rica’s soccer federation after he was indicted in a case that has removed a generation of Latin American soccer leaders from office.
FIFA acted Friday to repair some damage by pledging to appoint crisis management committees at two federations.
Five-member panels will be named to run soccer in Honduras and Guatemala and organize elections, after talks between FIFA and regional body CONCACAF.
The Honduras federation president, Alfredo Hawit, was also the acting CONCACAF president and a FIFA vice president when he was arrested on Dec. 3 in a second early-morning raid at the Baur au Lac.
Hawit, who was among 16 officials named when a new indicted was unsealed this month, is contesting his extradition.
Former Honduras state president Rafael Callejas, a member of the FIFA television and marketing committee, pleaded not guilty in Brooklyn federal court this week. His bail was set at $4 million.
Three Guatemalan officials have been indicted: Federation president Brayan Jimenez and executive committee member Hector Trujillo, and former FIFA executive committee member Rafael Salguero.