We, the Banana Republic: How the Swiss criminal justice system was ridiculed internationally
The “summer fairy tale”, the internationally recognized FIFA case, is time-barred. Ruined by incredible bankruptcies and mishaps by federal prosecutors and Co.
The “summer fairy tale” is barred. Yesterday, April 27th. Without fuss. It was the flagship case of Federal Attorney Michael Lauber, who, when he took office in 2012, promised that he would lead the Federal Prosecutor’s Office out of the crisis with “coaching and controlling”. The result: a single pile of broken glass.
Failures and misconduct are likely to cost taxpayers millions in the “summer fairy tale” alone – the confusion and the awarding of the 2006 World Cup. Long-standing procedures, driven to the wall by the federal prosecutor’s office due to errors and bias, are one thing. The other is the reputation damage suffered by Switzerland and its judiciary. The “Süddeutsche Zeitung” writes, for example, of an “unspeakable lawsuit”, “opaque felt around the quiet dates of the chief prosecutor”.
Federal attorney Lauber loses the succession course in-house
Under the impression of the international ridicule, Laubers now turns his back on his troops, which are led by a hard hand. “People are saying now that he has to go,” says an insider.
The turning point was the disciplinary order of the supervisory authority to Lauber. This accuses the Federal Prosecutor of having violated official duties in connection with the secret meetings with FIFA President Gianni Infantino, has repeatedly said the untruth, acted disloyally, is unreasonable and “essentially has a wrong understanding of the profession”.
In addition, Lauber is said to have lied to his own people. In an internal email to the staff, he claimed that an informed person said that he had not been able to comment on the supervisory report. In the decision of the supervisory authority AB-BA, published on March 2, the staff could then read that Lauber had already received the draft for comment in February.
The worm sits even deeper in the Swiss criminal justice system. The statute of limitations for the “summer fairy tale” case is not just for the prosecutor’s office. The federal criminal court in Bellinzona had been charged since last August. But only months later, at the end of January 2020, did the court send them back to the federal prosecutor’s office for rectification. In addition, the court temporarily postponed the trial originally planned for January 2020 to March 2020. Although it was clear that time was short because the allegations expire in April.
Criminal lawyer Mark Pieth spoke to the CH-Media newspapers of “Italian conditions in the Swiss judiciary”. He said: “The process reinforces the impression that foreigners are increasingly seeing that the Swiss judiciary is sloppy at all levels. In the case of football proceedings, not only the federal prosecutor slips, but also the federal criminal court. »
Even within the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, the thesis holds that the trial was pushed into the statute of limitations. That there was an agreement between Bern and Bellinzona. The background: If the procedure becomes time-barred, it will at least not fail due to the fatal secret meetings between Lauber and Infantino, which, as the Federal Criminal Court itself held, would have led to a “comprehensive ban on the use of evidence”. That would have been a complete blow for Lauber and his team.
This is well anchored in Bellinzona. Former head of white-collar crime, Olivier Thormann, himself involved in the FIFA procedure and declared biased, is now President of the Bellinzona Chamber of Appeals. Former federal prosecutor Martin Stupf is president of the criminal division. It would have been his job, together with the trial judge Sylvia Frei, to ensure that the indictment was assessed quickly and that the trial was started in good time to prevent the limitation period.
Fifa is also there: the most unpopular large Swiss corporations
UEFA case: new suspicions against Lauber and Infantino
There is a lot to hide, because of Lauber’s unexplained Infantino meetings, the remaining 20 or so football procedures now threaten to burst. Stressful material can also be found in documents from the well-known “Football Leaks” fund, which the “Tages-Anzeiger” has only just published.
There are not only in-depth references to systematic fussing between the Lauber troop and Fifa. There is also an e-mail that additionally burdens both Lauber and Infantino. It shows that the Fifa boss wanted a secret meeting with Lauber in order to remove allegations that went back to his time as Uefa general secretary. It was about a dubious TV rights contract that Infantino had signed. In fact, the federal prosecutor subsequently dropped the case.
This email exchange between Infantino and his helper, the Valais senior prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold, also shows that there was a connection between the Uefa proceedings of the federal prosecutor and Arnold. The special prosecutor, who was investigating Arnold for taking advantage, had said no. Arnold had received grants worth more than CHF 15,000 from Infantino, Uefa and Fifa, the special investigator found.
The highest Swiss court, the Federal Supreme Court, is also caught up in these smoldering Swiss judicial affairs. During a supervisory investigation into the unsustainable conditions at the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, known as “moral decay”, it violated the legal hearing of judges and court employees, who were charged in the report, according to criminal lawyers. Here too there are indications that some judiciaries know each other too well across the courts to be able to keep a critical distance.
The Swiss criminal justice system is building a banana republic.
After all, the grievances are now being dealt with by the parliamentary supervisory body GPK, which for a long time remained far too inactive.
Lauber is threatened with impeachment …
The big end could still come for Lauber. An application for impeachment is announced in the Federal Assembly. The Greens announced to CH Media weeks ago that they wanted to start a process. More and more parliamentarians are now following this demand.
But that’s not all. An experienced investigator, who has carried out various investigations for the federal government, says: The findings from the AB-BA investigation against Lauber easily justified “sufficient initial suspicion” for the opening of criminal proceedings. Among other things, there is suspicion that Lauber violated the official secret at the secret meetings, in which Infantino’s buddy Rinaldo Arnold was a private person. The expert believes that the AB-BA itself should have initiated criminal proceedings against Lauber and should have appointed an extraordinary public prosecutor.
Patrick Gättelin, Secretary of the AB-BA, rejects this: «The AB-BA conducted a disciplinary investigation (administrative law) regarding Federal Attorney Michael Lauber, ie no criminal proceedings. In the assessment of the authority, after the completion of the disciplinary investigation regarding a possible breach of official secrecy by federal prosecutor Michael Lauber, which is relevant under criminal law, there are no sufficiently concrete suspect elements that would justify the filing of a criminal complaint. »
… and criminal proceedings
“In principle, the parliament” is responsible for appointing an extraordinary public prosecutor in criminal complaints regarding the federal prosecutor and the two deputy federal prosecutors. In addition, the Immunity Commission would have to authorize the opening of criminal proceedings.
Research shows that parliamentarians are actually considering filing a complaint against Lauber. The highest prosecutor in the country, who did not represent a single charge, could one day find himself in court. It is the presumption of innocence.
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