Lisbon Court postponed ‘Football Leaks’ ruling in light f the Pope’s visit

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The trial of Rui Pinto, the founder of Football Leaks, was delayed by a Lisbon court on Tuesday.

This was due to a potential new law that could pardon certain young offenders, which may be implemented in light of Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to Portugal next month. 

Pinto established the Football Leaks website in 2015 with the intention of sharing confidential documents from various national and international organizations. These documents included transfer fees, agreements between sports entities, contracts, and information regarding players’ agencies, according to prosecutors.

He is facing a total of 90 charges, which include unauthorized access to data, violation of correspondence, and attempted extortion. The trial began in September 2020. Pinto, who used to be a history student and taught himself computer skills, admits to releasing over 70 million documents. 

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However, he claims to have acted as a whistleblower in the public’s interest. The verdict was originally scheduled for April 28th but was postponed until Thursday, July 13th. 

However, in anticipation of Pope Francis’ visit to attend World Youth Day in Lisbon from August 2nd to 6th, the majority Socialist government of Portugal recently announced a one-year pardon for young individuals between the ages of 16 and 30 who are serving sentences of up to eight years.

The law also creates a “amnesty regime” for young individuals in the same age range, for offenses that carry a maximum prison sentence of one year or fines up to 1,000 euros. However, this does not apply to severe crimes like murder or domestic violence. Judge Margarida Alves stated that Pinto is eligible for this law because he was underage when the alleged crimes were committed.

“It would be useless…to deliver a ruling that then, days later, might have to be changed,” Alves said.

If the amnesty law is implemented by July 28th, the reading will occur on July 31st. However, if the law is not in force by that date, the reading will be scheduled for September 11th. 

According to information obtained from Football Leaks by Reuters, the data revealed how wealthy and influential individuals in soccer managed to evade taxes by redirecting their earnings to offshore accounts. The investigation also scrutinized the substantial amounts of money circulating within top clubs and the inconsistent enforcement of regulations by authorities.

The papers presented some of the proof that resulted in a temporary prohibition, which has now been reversed, on Manchester City, an English Premier League team, from participating in the European Champions League due to alleged violations of Financial Fair Play regulations. 

Pinto was apprehended in Hungary in January 2019, but he was subsequently released from confinement and placed in a witness protection program.

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