Referee requests disqualification of Examining Magistrate

One of the two referees implicated in the football match fixing and money laundering case Bart Vertenten has requested the disqualification of the Examining Magistrate that is working on the case. The news that Mr Vertenten has requested the Examining Magistrates disqualification appears in an article the daily ‘De Standaard’ and has been confirmed by VRT News sources. Mr Vertenten’s lawyer is currently refusing to comment. However, last week he brought into doubt the Examining Magistrates impartiality as until earlier this year he was also a member of the Belgian Football Association’s Licensing Committee.   

 

The scandal that has beset Belgian football first broke two weeks ago. A number of people, football agents, former officials and referees were taken into custody for questioning. Football agents Mogi Bayat and Dejan Veljkovic are among those implicated as are the referees Sébastien Delferière and Bart Vertenten.  

Speaking last week on VRT Radio 1 current affairs programme ‘De wereld vandaag’ that “I will leave it to you to judge whether it is normal that the case is being investigated by someone that is a member of the Football Association. Mr Raskin (the Examining Magisstrate) was a member of the Licencing Commission and now he stands in judgement of my client. I don’t find het acceptable that an Examining Magistrate that holds a position with my clients employers is now standing in judgement of him. I have every faith that the magistrates will rule in favour of my clients’ release. Mr Vertenten has an irreproachable record as a national and international referee".  

What happens now?

There are two possible outcomes. In the first instance the Examining Magistrate could agree to accept Mr Vertenten’s disqualification request and resign from the case. He has 48 hours to make his decision. If he decides to step down another Examing Magistrate would take over the case, but would needs time to get up to speed. If the Eximining Magistrate decides to stay on, it would be up to the Court of Appeal in Antwerp to decide whether he can.