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  • Pele Expected to Testify in Rio 2016 Investigation


    (ATR) Pelé will testify in the vote-buying legal process that revolves around Rio de Janeiro’s election as host of the 2016 Olympic Games.

    The former footballer will testify as a witness for the defense of Carlos Arthur Nuzman, the former president of the Brazilian Olympic Committee and the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee.
    Carlos Nuzman (ATR)

    His appearance before the judge of the case, Marcelo Bretas, will be by video conference on May 29.

    Pelé should have testified on Monday May 14 but his current health problems prevented him from doing so, according to Folha de S.Paulo.

    Last January, Pelé had to be hospitalized for extreme fatigue. Weeks before that, he made a public appearance in Moscow in a wheelchair during the draw of the World Cup where he was photographed with Vladimir Putin and Diego Maradona among others.

    In recent years, the 77-year-old former player has undergone meniscus, hip, spine and prostate surgeries.

    Pele was an emblematic and busy figure for the candidacy of Rio that managed to become an Olympic host. The ex player made several trips through Africa during the race before the Brazilian city´s election in Copenhagen in 2009.

    Meanwhile, Nuzman’s lawyers downplay new evidence in the alleged vote purchase case that links the Rio de Janeiro organizers with the election of the city for the 2016 Olympic Games.

    According to the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, Carlos Emanuel Miranda, former adviser of the then governor of Rio de Janeiro, Sérgio Cabral, admits that four votes were illegally bought in the IOC in exchange for the election of the Brazilian city as the organizer of the Olympic Games 2016.

    The newspaper cites Miranda's confession before the Brazilian judicial authorities as part of a cooperation agreement between both parties and approved by the Brazilian Supreme Court.

    According to Miranda’s testimony under oath, Cabral confessed to him in prison that a businessman, Arthur César de Menezes Soares Filho, was commissioned to pay African leaders linked to IAAF for the purchase of four votes.

    The alleged bribes were made through the Senegalese Lamine Diack, then a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

    The money spent on the purchase of the votes is estimated at $2 million, for which Sergio Cabral is one of the six people accused of participating in that operation.

    According to Folha, Miranda said that the information conveyed to him by Cabral himself occurred in prison in early 2017. Soares Filho, a personal friend of Cabral’s and also known as "King Arthur," is accused of transferring $1.5 million to Papa Massata Diack, Lamine Diack’s son. This delivery was apparently made three days before the election of Rio. A second transfer of $500,000 ended up in an account of Diack´s son in Russia. Father and son have defended their innocence.

    The Brazilian Prosecutor's Office already had indications that this money was to be distributed by Diack among other other IOC voters.

    Meanwhile, the French prosecutor's office has already accused former Namibia athletics star Frank Frederick of receiving $300,000 from the Massata Diack company on the day of Rio’s election. Frederick is suspended as an IOC member pending investigations.

    Since then, the names of other suspects in the case have not been disclosed.

    Soares Filho was imprisoned in October coinciding with the arrest of Carlos Nuzman but since then has regained his freedom.

    His statements may incriminate even more than Nuzman, who while still under house arrest, is accused of participating in the alleged purchase of votes, according to the newspaper. Despite this, the lawyer, Joao Francisco Neto, maintains that Miranda's statement has no credibility. "It is a prison conversation, which is worthless and further weakens the accusation, which is being deconstructed in the process," he said. .

    Rio de Janeiro investigated for possibly buying votes before 2016 (Pixabay)
    "The candidacy of Rio de Janeiro was victorious after much sweat and tireless work of several people who were involved in this great project." Carlos Arthur Nuzman fought for that conquest since 1979. "Speaking in vote buying is demeaning the successful Brazilian project," insisted the jurist, according to Folha.

    Around the Rings has contacted Neto for more details of the process.

    Rɨo de Janeiro was chosen as the Olympic venue during the 2009 IOC Session in Copenhagen, Denmark. Rio surpassed Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo in the voting.

    In the first round of tha ballot, the Brazilian city had 26 votes and Chicago was eliminated with 18. If Rio had not counted on those four votes apparently "bought", there would have been a tie and therefore a new vote.

    After the first round Rio maintained a wide advantage over the others. In the last round, Rio beat Madrid 66-32.

    Feature picture courtesy of Wikimedia

    Reported by Miguel Hernandez.

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