Judge delays U.S. extradition request for Argentina FIFA defendants

Argentine businessmen Mariano Jinkis (C) and his father Hugo (L, back) who are wanted by U.S. prosecutors in a FIFA bribery investigation, are escorted by police officers after they turned themselves in to authorities in Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian

By Hugh Bronstein BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - An Argentine judge has suspended the U.S. extradition request for Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, who are wanted as part of the FIFA graft scandal that has rocked world soccer over the last three months, according to court papers seen by Reuters on Thursday. The sport was thrown into turmoil in May when U.S. authorities announced an indictment saying 14 men corrupted soccer's world governing body by agreeing to more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks for media and marketing rights. Hugo Jinkis, 70, and his son Mariano, 40, are among the current and former FIFA officials and corporate executives indicted on racketeering charges. Judge Claudio Bonadio signed an order on Tuesday suspending the extradition process for 30 days while he asks U.S. prosecutors for more information about the accusations against the two Argentine suspects, who are under house arrest. "In concrete terms, what actions by the defendants broke each of the laws they are accused of violating?" the judge wrote in the order, a copy of which was e-mailed to Reuters by the lawyer defending Hugo Jinkis. Jorge Anzorreguy said he asked the judge to allow his client to leave the house where he has been confined while the 30-day suspension is in force. He said the legal team of the younger Jinkis made the same request. The father and son surrendered to Argentine police on June 18, three weeks after U.S. justice officials unveiled their case. Bonadio ordered the house arrest, saying they presented a flight risk given their considerable personal wealth. Nicolás Leoz, the 86-year-old former head of South America's CONMEBOL soccer confederation, was also indicted. He has been under house arrest in Paraguay since June 1. The U.S. request for the extradition of Leoz was put to an appeals court in Asuncion on Thursday after a judge rejected his request that extradition be denied. U.S. authorities say the investigation has exposed money laundering schemes, millions of dollars in untaxed income and tens of millions of dollars in offshore accounts held by FIFA officials. (Reporting by Hugh Bronstein; Additional reporting by Walter Bianchi, Jorge Otaola, Maximiliano Rizzi, and in Asuncion, Daniela Desantis; Editing by Dan Grebler)