By Hugh Bronstein
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – An Argentine judge on Tuesday denied a U.S. extradition request for three former soccer figures charged as part of the probe into the sport’s world-wide governing body, citing the fact that they were already being tried in Argentina.
International soccer’s FIFA governing body was rocked last year by a U.S.-led investigation into corruption, bribery, wire fraud and racketeering in the world’s most popular sport.
Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio rejected the extradition request from a New York court for the father-and-son sports marketing team Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, along with former regional soccer chief Eduardo Deluca, saying the trio should not be tried for the same crimes in two different countries.
“For the Jinkis (pair) and Deluca to face the same charges in two ongoing investigations in the jurisdictions of New York and Buenos Aires would put their constitutional rights at risk,” said the 84-page opinion published by Argentina’s CIJ judicial information agency.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, which is handling the case, declined comment.
The three are under house arrest in Argentina. Deluca had served as head of South American soccer body Conmebol.
Ex-FIFA officials who have pleaded guilty have agreed to pay tens of millions of dollars in forfeiture.
FIFA attempted to put the crisis behind it by approving the deepest reforms in its 112-year history in February. But the scandal has rumbled on, with regular announcements of new probes, extraditions and punishments of tainted officials.
Also on Tuesday, the former head of Thailand’s soccer association was banned for five years by FIFA’s ethics watchdog on charges of forgery.
(Additional reporting by Maximilian Heath and Nicolas Misculin in Buenos Aires and Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Alistair Bell)