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Swiss prosecutor in FIFA probe hauled before MPs

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Switzerland’s attorney general Michael Lauber speaks during a press conference in Bern, following a hearing into a reportedly undisclosed meeting between the country’s top prosecutor and FIFA president. AFP

AFP – Switzerland’s attorney general, who is conducting investigations into alleged corruption at FIFA, will be hauled in front of the Swiss parliament’s judicial committee, the body said Wednesday.

Michael Lauber, the Alpine nation’s top prosecutor, will be quizzed at the committee’s next meeting on May 20.

The committee of lawmakers “then intends to decide on the possible opening of a revocation procedure against him,” it said in a statement.

In Switzerland, the attorney general is chosen by parliamentarians.

Lauber was investigated by the supervisory authority watchdog that oversees his office with regard to his informal meetings with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, the head of world football’s governing body, in 2016 and 2017.

The committee said it had noted the disciplinary decision taken by the watchdog on March 2 to sanction Lauber by cutting his salary.

That investigation found that Lauber committed “very serious breaches” before, but also during the disciplinary proceedings, said the committee.

“These included statements contrary to the truth, violation of the duty of loyalty or obstruction of the disciplinary investigation,” it said.

Lauber appealed against that decision.

The prosecutor accuses the watchdog of having made several procedural errors, exceeding its powers and “being biased”, the committee said.

If the committee is aware of facts “seriously implicating the professional and personal suitability of the attorney general”, then it “must decide whether or not to initiate revocation proceedings,” the body said.

“In view of the current situation, it decided to hear from Mr Lauber at its meeting on May 20.”

FIFA has never denied the meetings between Infantino and Lauber, saying they were intended to show that the federation was “ready to cooperate with the Swiss justice system”.

But the legal uncertainty in which these meetings took place raised the question of potential collusion between Swiss prosecutors and FIFA, which is based in Zurich.

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

He alleged that Infantino and Lauber thought themselves “untouchable and above the law”.

In total, more than 20 FIFA proceedings have been opened in Switzerland over the past five years into allegations of corruption and vote-buying, and allegations over the awarding of television rights contracts.

In an interview with the Swiss magazine L’Illustre published on Wednesday, former UEFA president Michel Platini called on Infantino to resign.

He alleged that Infantino and Lauber thought themselves “untouchable and above the law”.

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