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The trial of former FIFA head Sepp Blatter and French football great Michel Platini over alleged corruption payments came to a standstill on Wednesday when Blatter declared himself too unwell to testify.
Prosecutors in Switzerland accuse the couple of illegally arranging the payment of 2 million Swiss francs (£1.6 million) in 2011. Blatter and Platini deny the claims.
However, Blatter, who appeared emaciated during the hearing in Bellinzona’s federal criminal court, said he could not speak because of chest difficulties.
In hushed tones, the 85-year-old told the court, “The pain will return, and I am having difficulties breathing.” But, on Thursday, the judges agreed to allow him to testify.
Blatter and Platini’s lawyers previously failed to move the trial to a local court or dismiss Fifa’s legal claim for the 2 million Swiss francs.
“This case is being tried in the wrong stadium,” Platini’s lawyer, Dominic Nellen, told the court, arguing that federal charges should only be used in huge, worldwide situations.
The justices threw out the claim and permitted Fifa to continue its involvement. Fifa’s lawyer, Catherine Hohl-Chirazi, stated, “It is clear that Fifa has been harmed.” “There was a theft of two million francs.”
The trial is scheduled to end on June 22nd. On July 8, a decision will be rendered. Platini and Blatter may face a five-year prison sentence if convicted. Both have denied wrongdoing and claim they had a verbal understanding of the payment for Platini’s consulting services between 1998 and 2002.
Blatter, who was once the most influential person in international football, walked with a stoop and held his daughter Corinne’s elbow as he approached the court. However, he claimed to be upbeat and in a good mood before to the hearing.
He remarked outside the courtroom, “I know I haven’t done anything illegal.” “I spent 45 years with Fifa, playing football.”
Platini, a former president of Uefa, expressed confidence and quipped that he would need to brush up on his German to keep up with the proceedings. “We will prove in court that I acted with the utmost honesty, that Fifa owes me the remaining wage, and that it is absolutely lawful,” he said before the hearing.
Blatter and Platini have been charged with fraud, misappropriation, criminal mismanagement, and document forgery by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General.
Platini, who led France to victory in the 1984 European Championship as a player, was also charged as an accomplice.
Blatter and Platini, were barred from football for six years in 2016 due to a payment paid with Blatter’s knowledge for work done a decade before.