Special prosecutor in FIFA case criticises his dismissal

Keller will finish his mandate officially on May 31. Keystone / Urs Flueeler

The Swiss special prosecutor who was recused from an investigation of FIFA President Gianni Infantino for biased conduct has blasted the decision while handing in his resignation.

This content was published on May 20, 2021

The Federal Criminal Court found earlier in May month that Stefan Keller had to go because his public comments about the case reflected bias against Infantino, whose legal team had waged a running battle with the prosecutor.

Keller had opened criminal proceedings in July 2020 over meetings which Infantino and former Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber had held while Lauber’s office was investigating alleged FIFA corruption.

Handing in his official resignation for May 31, Keller fired a parting shot at the circumstances surrounding his dismissal, writing that he was “unable to continue his investigation due to the personal composition of the Federal Criminal Court”.

He said the court’s ruling was not conclusively reasoned and did not take case law properly into account. “It is assumed that the verdict is result-oriented and not reached with the necessary independence,” he added.

Appearing before a parliamentary commission on Wednesday, Keller also said that leaving the case would mean considerable loss of inquiry information, as well as precious time that could be used to wrap up the case before the statute of limitations expires.

In his investigations, Keller had concluded that there were indications of criminal conduct in relation to undisclosed meetings between Lauber, Infantino and Valais public prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold in 2016 and 2017. This raises allegations of abuse of public office, breach of official secrecy, assisting offenders and incitement to these acts.

Infantino’s legal team has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing by FIFA's president, elected in 2016 to clean up the organisation after it became embroiled in a corruption scandal. It had questioned Keller’s handling of the case and his impartiality.

Keller’s replacement has not yet been named.

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