Carlos Nuzman confident he will be found not guilty after appeal to Rio de Janeiro court

Nuzman, former president of the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, is accused of buying votes for the Brazilian city to become Olympic host.

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Carlos Nuzman holds the Rio 2016 torch. (ATR)
Carlos Nuzman holds the Rio 2016 torch. (ATR)

The defense of former Brazilian Olympic Committee president Carlos Nuzman filed an appeal for the delay of the trial in which his client is accused of participating in a vote-buying scheme for the 2016 Olympic venue. Nuzman, head of Rio 2016, is confident he will be found not guilty.

Nuzman’s lawyer, João Francisco Neto, confirmed to Around The Rings his request to the court.

“An 80-year-old man is being served, who has priority and respectfully invokes the fundamental guarantee of having his process defined within a reasonable period of time,” Neto states in his request.

In four months, Nuzman will be 80 years old. His case was opened four years ago within the operation known as “Lava Jato” , the largest anti-corruption investigation in Brazil’s history.

“I have appealed for a definitive deadline to be set and for the judge to issue the ruling,” Neto said.

Judge Marcelo Bretas is responsible for executing " Operation Lava Jato” in Rio de Janeiro and the one in charge of the trial against Nuzman.

This week it became known that a specialized panel of the Federal Court reduced the number of collaborators in Bretas’ office and at the same time demanded the judge for delays in sentencing criminal actions.

According to “Folha de Sao Paulo”, this instance, which judges the appeals of Bretas’ decisions, granted him a term of two months for the conclusion of pending proceedings.

The process, in which Nuzman is accused of collaborating in the payment of bribes to choose Rio de Janeiro as the site of the 2016 Olympic Games, completed on Wednesday, November 3, a year in Bretas’ office, ready for sentencing.

The magistrate attributed the delay in part to the departure of public officials who worked with him.

“It has not yet been possible to pass sentence in view of the large volume of cases in charge of this court, several complex criminal actions with several linked proceedings, a high number of defendants, some detained or serving precautionary measures, plus the sudden retirement of servants who are part of the task force that acted in aid in this service, " Bretas wrote to the court.

In September 2020, Bretas was punished for participating in the inauguration of a public work with President Jair Bolsonaro, recalled the well-known Brazilian media.

Among the defendants in the same case as Nuzman are former Rio de Janeiro governor Sergio Cabral and former operations and marketing director Leonardo Gryner.

Nuzman and Gryner are accused by the Public Prosecutor’s Office as alleged intermediaries for the payment of two million dollars to the then president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Lamine Diack.

According to prosecutors in exchange for the money, the Senegalese would vote for Rio as the Olympic venue and together with his son, Papa Massata, an IAAF marketing consultant, would also influence other African IOC members to do the same.

In September 2020, Diack was sentenced in Paris to four years in prison on corruption charges, most notably for a scheme that allowed Russian athletes, who paid millions, to continue competing quietly when they should have been suspended for doping.

In May 2021, Diack, 87, returned to Senegal after payment of a half-million-euro bail by the owner of a soccer club there from where he must continue to answer summonses from French authorities.

Papa Massata was also sentenced, in absentia, to five years in prison, but continued to live in Senegal, which refused to extradite him.

In late 2018, Nuzman underwent questioning by Bretas in open court and denied all allegations of acts of corruption in the process of the Brazilian city’s Olympic bid.

In Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, the IOC Session that chose Rio as the Olympic host city was held in October 2009.

Nuzman appeared in court with several folders full of documents about Rio’s Olympic bid process, about which he said he is also writing a book.

“He has not concluded it yet, pending his acquittal,” Neto’s lawyer told Around the Rings this week.

Nuzman, suspended by the IOC as an honorary member since October 2017, has exposed stories of Olympic hopefuls at different times in order to demonstrate how “normal” and “natural” in the Olympic world meant a series of trips and contacts with international federations and other personalities with a view, first, to host the Olympics, and then, to organize an Olympic Games.

Carlos Nuzman /ATR
Carlos Nuzman /ATR

Prosecutors have reproached Nuzman for not having been able to notice irregularities for someone with such a command of the different issues of the Olympic Movement.

The former Brazilian Olympic leader, who retired as an effective IOC member in 2012 on his 70th birthday, said he has “nothing to hide”.

Nuzman’s defense has tried to prove that all of his defendant’s actions complied with the established rules.

“I believe he will be acquitted. There is no evidence against him,” Neto reiterated.

The lawyer clarified that Nuzman “has no restrictions” and is at home awaiting sentencing “in full freedom.”

Questioned about this status, Neto specified that his client can leave Brazil “but he must first request a permit”.

The jurist assured that Nuzman, former volleyball player “is in good health” and has no prohibition to talk to the press, “but he did not want to”.

Among the more than 20 witnesses called to testify by the defense throughout this process before Judge Bretas were two members of the IOC, the Moroccan Nawal El Moutawakel, and the Ivorian Lassana Palenfo, the latter an honorary member. Both spoke in French via videoconference.

The legendary former soccer player Pelé and former Brazilian president Lula da Silva, emblematic figures of the Pro Rio 2016 Commission, were also heard in the trial.

All of them assured that they were unaware of the existence of alleged bribes in the Olympic race concluded in 2009, in which Rio defeated Madrid by 66 votes to 32 in the third round of the elections after the elimination of Chicago and Tokyo in the first two rounds.

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