Fuss Settled Over FIFA Defendant’s Throat Gesture

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) – Prosecutors told a federal judge Monday that they no longer want a pretrial detention for a former soccer official accused of threatening one of the witnesses in the FIFA corruption case.

The controversy arose last week when Manuel Burga, the former president of Peruvian soccer, twice made a gesture with his hand, appearing to slash it across his throat, from the courtroom defense table.

In both instances, government witness Alejandro Burzaco was either testifying or approaching the stand.

What prosecutors insisted was a threat worthy of remanding Burga into custody, however, the defense team chalked up to a simple itch.

U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen tightened Burga’s bail restrictions pending review of courtroom surveillance tapes and a possible hearing, during which she wanted to hear testimony from Burzaco about the incidents.

Before that hearing could take place, however, Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel Nitze said Monday that his team has come to an agreement on the matter with Burga’s defense team.

“It seems perfectly fine to have no hearing,” Chen agreed this morning.

Burga has been facing trial on house arrest, monitored by GPS. He is allowed to go out in the presence of his lawyer, Bruce Udolf.

Prosecutors said this morning that pretrial services can block Burga from making calls to anyone but his attorneys, his wife and a few other family members.

Udolf is leaving town for the Thanksgiving holiday and Chen granted permission for Burga to attend Mass on Sundays without him, as well as leave his hotel for an hour to eat.

One of 40 individuals indicted as part of the FIFA investigation, Burga is on trial alongside Juan Angel Napout, the former president of the South American soccer confederation Conmebol, and ex-Brazilian soccer head Jose Maria Marin.

Udolf argued that Burga has a “dry skin condition” and that he wanted a dermatologist to conduct an examination. There was no mention this morning of such a doctor’s visit.

Udolf called the whole thing a “great distraction.”

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