Swiss court removes prosecutor in Infantino case

FILE PHOTO: FIFA President Gianni Infantino speaks to journalists during a two days visit with Patrice Motsepe, president of CAF, African Football Confederation, (not pictured) in Abidjan, Ivory Coast May 4, 2021, REUTERS/Luc Gnago

ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA President Gianni Infantino has won his bid to have a Swiss special prosecutor removed from an investigation looking at his undocumented dealings with Switzerland's former attorney general.

The ruling by the Federal Criminal Court caps a running legal battle between Infantino and prosecutor Stefan Keller, who in July opened criminal proceedings over meetings Infantino and former top prosecutor Michael Lauber held while Lauber's office investigated alleged corruption in world soccer.

Infantino's legal team has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing by the man elected in 2016 to clean up FIFA after it became embroiled in a corruption scandal. It has questioned Keller's handling of the case and his impartiality.

"The Appeals Chamber of the Federal Criminal Court has found...Stefan Keller has given grounds for recusal in the criminal proceedings against the President of FIFA Gianni Infantino by his media releases of December 10, 2020, February 10, March 8 and 11, 2021, as well as by a statement in a legal journal," the court said in a statement.

The ruling said Keller's media releases were not "an objective communication of important interim steps in the

pre-trial proceedings, but rather one-sided reporting".

It approved Infantino's request for Keller's recusal in a legally binding ruling.

"FIFA and FIFA President Gianni Infantino welcome the decision of the Swiss Federal Criminal Court to remove Stefan Keller from his position as extraordinary Federal Prosecutor," the global soccer body said, reiterating its willingness to cooperate with the authorities.

Keller was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Angus MacSwan/Mark Heinrich)

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