by attorney at law Filip Tomic

Michel Platini wins in federal court – all judges must step down

Many people know Michel Platini as one of the greatest footballers of all time. He was then President of UEFA for many years from 2007. In 2015 at the latest, Michel Platini’s reputation was severely tarnished by the FIFA Ethics Committee’s long-term ban from all football-related activities. In addition to this ban, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland opened criminal proceedings, which led to an indictment against Michel Platini at the end of 2021. In this case, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland accused him of having obtained an unlawful payment of CHF 2 million to himself in collaboration with the former FIFA President, Sepp Blatter. On July 8, 2022, the Federal Criminal Court acquitted Michel Platini of all charges. The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland did not accept this and appealed the acquittal to the Appeals Chamber of the Federal Criminal Court.

In the course of the criminal proceedings against Michel Platini, there was a decisive new appointment at the Appeals Chamber. The former head of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland was elected as a judge of the Appeals Chamber and immediately appointed President of the Chamber. Michel Platini therefore demanded that all judges of the Appeals Chamber should not be allowed to participate in the decision due to their dependence on the President, who had stepped down of his own accord.

After the President of the Federal Criminal Court did not fully approve his request, Michel Platini took the matter to the Federal Supreme Court. The court held that the mere fact that the president was biased did not mean that the other judges in the same chamber could not carry out their work conscientiously.

It was another circumstance that helped Michel Platini to victory after all: the President of the Appeals Chamber, who had stepped down, was not only a former head of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, but also a witness in the proceedings before the Federal Criminal Court. The Federal Supreme Court therefore came to the conclusion that it could not be ruled out that the other judges were not in a position to assess and appropriately weigh all of the evidence, including the testimony of their president, without being influenced.