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Football chief under house arrest

Published 02/06/2015

Judge Humberto Otazu speaks to journalists outside Migone Hospital, after meeting Nicolas Leoz (AP)
Judge Humberto Otazu speaks to journalists outside Migone Hospital, after meeting Nicolas Leoz (AP)

The former president of the South American Football Confederation has been placed under house arrest amid a far-reaching corruption scandal at Fifa that has tarnished the image of world football's governing body.

Judge Humberto Otazu also said that 86-year-old Nicolas Leoz is expected to be released later in the day from a hospital in the Paraguayan capital where he is being treated for high blood pressure.

Leoz, who was president of the federation, known as Conmebol, from 1986 to 2013, is one of several former and current top football officials named in a Fifa corruption investigation.

"In accordance with the seriousness of the case ... it's prudent and timely to issue the house arrest," Judge Otazu said outside the hospital, adding that Leoz was not sent to prison because under Paraguayan law defendants over 70 years of age cannot be jailed pending a trial.

Last week, seven football officials were arrested in dawn raids at a luxury Zurich hotel.

The US Justice Department indicted 14 people on charges of bribery, racketeering, money-laundering and other charges.

Among those in custody was Leoz's successor at Conmebol and Fifa vice president and executive committee member, Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay.

The Paraguayan foreign ministry has received a note from the United States embassy requesting Leoz's arrest and seeking his extradition.

Leoz has been receiving treatment at the Migone private hospital that he owns in Asuncion since the scandal broke out, pushing Fifa into the worst crisis in its 111-year history.

Lawyer Fernando Barriocanal told reporters outside the hospital that his client is in good spirits and will defend himself when the right time comes.

Elsewhere, the former president of the Brazilian soccer confederation is facing corruption charges.

They relate to 147 million US dollars (£96 million) in transfers from his bank accounts as he led the preparations for the 2014 World Cup.

Local news magazine Epoca reported that Brazil's Federal Police had investigated Ricardo Teixeira and in January recommended to federal prosecutors that he be charged with corruption crimes. The magazine said it has seen the police document.

Federal prosecutor spokesman Marcelo Del Negri has confirmed the investigation.

Under Brazilian law, only prosecutors can file criminal charges and they then must be accepted by a judge. That has not yet happened in the Teixeira case.

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