Suspended Guatemala Football Federation secretary general and judge Héctor Trujillo has pleaded not guilty to corruption charges in connection with taking bribes in exchange for media and marketing rights to World Cup qualifiers.
Trujillo, one of the 16 FIFA officials indicted by the United States Department of Justice last month and who was arrested while on a Walt Disney cruise ship on December 4, entered his plea at a Federal Court in New York City.
He was taken into custody by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) when the ship he was on docked in Port Canaveral, Florida.
The 62-year-old served as a judge in the Guatemalan Constitutional Court prior to his arrest and will face a bail hearing on Thursday (January 7).
The indictment against Trujillo reportedly charged him with accepting two bribe payments from Media World, an affiliate of Spanish media company Imagina Group.
This allegedly included a six-figure sum split between the three in relation to marketing and media rights for qualifying matches for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The indictment also says that the other payment, which Trujillo allegedly solicited and accepted, was thought to be around $200,000 (£136,000/€186,000) for rights to qualifiers for the 2022 tournament.
Announcing the indictment on December 3, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Trujillo was “purportedly dispensing justice by day while allegedly soliciting bribes and selling his influence within FIFA”.
He has since been suspended from his role as secretary general of the Guatemalan Federation and position as a judge.
FIFA vice-presidents Alfredo Hawit of Honduras and Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay were also among those indicted in December.
Hawit and Napout, former Presidents of CONCACAF and the South American Football Confederation CONMEBOL respectively, were arrested on the morning of a FIFA Executive Committee meeting in Zurich last month, throwing world football’s governing body even further into turmoil.
Paraguyan Napout also recently denied bribery.
Rafael Callejas, the former President of Honduras, has also denied corruption allegations in the Federal Court after voluntarily travelling to the US to face the charges.
Both men are accused of accepting money in exchange for lucrative marketing rights.
- By Liam Morgan
- this article was republished with permission from the original publisher Inside the Games www.insidethegames.biz