Ex CONMEBOL head presses court to rule out US ex­tra­di­tion

The China Post - - SPORTS -

A lawyer for the for­mer pres­i­dent of South Amer­ica’s soc­cer con­fed­er­a­tion is re­quest­ing a Paraguayan judge to throw out a re­quest by U.S. pros­e­cu­tors to ex­tra­dite him to the United States where he has been charged in a cor­rup­tion scan­dal.

Ni­co­las Leoz is one of 14 peo­ple in­dicted by the U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment on charges of bribery, rack­e­teer­ing and money-laun­der­ing. The 86-year-old is be­ing held un­der house ar­rest in the Paraguayan cap­i­tal that is home to the head­quar­ters of the con­fed­er­a­tion, known as CONMEBOL.

His lawyer, Ri­cardo Preda, said Mon­day that there’s a “le­gal vac­uum” be­cause a law doesn’t ex­ist to de­cide on ex­tra­di­tions. A lo­cal judge over­see­ing the re­quest says he’ll re­spond in three days.

Leoz was CONMEBOL pres­i­dent from 1986-2013, and a for­mer mem­ber of FIFA’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee. In 1997, he lob­bied Paraguay’s leg­is­la­tors for a law mak­ing the CONMEBOL head­quar­ters ex­empt from le­gal in­ter­ven­tion, and once bragged that only the Vat­i­can en­joyed the kind of “im­mu­nity and to­tal priv­i­leges.”

Paraguay re­cently re­pealed the im­mu­nity that CONMEBOL’s head­quar­ters en­joyed for nearly two decades. It in­cluded pro­tec­tion from the kind of raids that hap­pened in May at FIFA and CONCACAF head­quar­ters in Switzer­land and Mi­ami.

Leoz, who is on In­ter­pol’s most wanted list, says he’s in­no­cent and plans to con­tinue fight­ing ex­tra­di­tion to the U.S.

AFP

Ri­cardo Preda, lawyer of Ni­co­las Leoz, talks to jour­nal­ists at Migone Hos­pi­tal, in Asun­cion, Paraguay on May 27.

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