FIFA Corruption Investigation Update: Extradition of Nicolás Leoz from Paraguay to the United States Contested

Nicolas_Leoz

At an extradition hearing held on 24 August 2015, the lawyer for Nicolás Leoz, the former President of the South American football confederation (CONMEBOL), requested the dismissal of a US extradition request for Mr Leoz, on the basis of legal defects in the 1998 extradition treaty between the US and Paraguay. The report is here.

Extradition Request: 23 July 2015

Mr Leoz has been held under house arrest in Asunción, Paraguay, since 1 June 2015, following his indictment in the US on charges of racketeering, money laundering and bribery, in connection with the FIFA corruption scandal. Mr Leoz denies the charges.

Previous blogs on the FIFA investigation are available here.

On 23 July 2015, Paraguay’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that the US Embassy had sent an extradition request for Mr Leoz.

Extradition Hearing: 24 August 2015

It is not entirely clear on what grounds Ricardo Preda, the lawyer representing Mr Leoz, challenged the US extradition request for his client, at an extradition hearing held in Paraguay on 24 August 2015. However, it appears that it relates to the procedure underlying the US-Paraguay extradition treaty.

Speaking to reporters outside the Paraguayan court, Mr Preda stated: “The defence is saying that you cannot extradite somebody if the law did not lay out the rules of the game. The treaty does not establish clear procedures to follow. There is a legislative void.”

Judge Humberto Otazu said that he would take up to three days to rule on Mr Preda’s submissions. The judge’s decision is open to appeal.

1998 US-Paraguay Extradition Treaty

Under Article II of the US-Paraguay extradition treaty, an offence is an extraditable offence if it is punishable under the laws in both countries and carries a minimum penalty of one year in prison. Article VII sets out extradition procedures, encompassing the requirements for a request to be made in writing, and supporting documentation.

The treaty further sets out, inter alia, provisional arrest procedures (Article X), decision and surrender requirements (Article XI), rules on specialty (Article XV), simplified extradition procedures (Article XVI) and transit provisions (Article XVII).

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