Switzerland's justice ministry gave its approval on Friday for the extradition of FIFA bribery case suspect Julio Rocha to Nicaragua.
BERN, Switzerland (AP) — Switzerland's justice ministry gave its approval on Friday for the extradition of FIFA bribery case suspect Julio Rocha to Nicaragua.
However, the United States can block the process because it has already sought Rocha's extradition in its own wide-ranging case.
Swiss justice department spokesman Folco Galli said American officials must consent before Rocha can go home.
"It will then be for the U.S. authorities to state whether or not they agree to Nicaragua being given priority," Galli said in a statement.
If American officials refuse to give up their claim on Rocha, the Swiss justice ministry will decide which extradition request to grant, Galli said.
Rocha was a FIFA development officer and Nicaragua football federation president when arrested at the Americans' request in a Zurich hotel on May 27. He has been detained in a Zurich area prison since and faces up to 20 years in prison on racketeering charges. He is suspected of taking bribes from marketing agencies which were awarded tournament broadcasting rights in South and North America.
"The Nicaraguan criminal prosecution authorities, like their U.S. counterparts, suspect Rocha of having abused his office for personal gain," Rocha said.
Rocha was among seven football officials, including two then-FIFA vice presidents, who were arrested in dawn raids in May.
One man, former CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands, agreed in July to be extradited to the U.S. He appeared in Brooklyn federal court Friday for a case status hearing.
Requests to extradite Rocha and five other men who have resisted being sent to the U.S. are being processed by Swiss authorities.
Decisions are expected within weeks but can be appealed to Swiss federal and supreme courts, delaying the process by several months.