Argentina lawyer named in FIFA trial commits suicide: police

BUENOS AIRES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former Argentine lawyer for a government-run soccer television program ran in front of a Buenos Aires train and committed suicide late on Tuesday, hours after being accused in a New York court of receiving bribes, police said.

Jorge Delhon, attorney for the Futbol Para Todos (Soccer for All) program, received bribes from the end of 2011 to 2014, according to testimony by the former head of sports marketing company Torneos y Competencias, Alejandro Burzaco, as recorded in a court transcript seen by Reuters.

The driver of the train told police a man later identified as Delhon, 50, ran along the tracks in Lanus, Buenos Aires, the local police department said in a statement that called the death a suicide.

The driver honked and tried to brake, but the man was run over, the statement said.

Reuters was unable to reach Delhon’s family for comment or to independently confirm the death was a suicide.

Javier Saldias, a fellow former lawyer for Futbol para Todos who told Reuters he was a friend of Delhon, said Delhon was “a model father. He loved his family.”

Burzaco testified during a U.S. corruption trial of three former soccer officials that major media companies had paid bribes to secure television rights for soccer matches. The testimony came during the first trial to emerge from the U.S. investigation of bribery surrounding FIFA, soccer’s world governing body.

U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen cast doubt on the cause of death during the trial in a Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday.

“You can call it a suicide. The truth is none of us know that for sure,” she said.

In his testimony, Burzaco described bribes paid to several international soccer officials, including former Argentine Football Association president and FIFA executive Julio Humberto Grondona, who died in 2014.

Soccer for All, a free-to-view program created by Argentina’s former President Cristina Fernandez, brought top-flight matches into the households of a soccer-obsessed country and was emblematic of her populist policymaking.

Center-right President Mauricio Macri, a former chairman of top club Boca Juniors who took office in December 2015, made a deal with the local soccer association to rescind the contract as he moved to cut government subsidies.

In March, divisions of U.S. media companies Twenty-First Century Fox Inc and Time Warner Inc won a joint contract to broadcast Argentine soccer matches for five years from next season.

Reporting by Jorge Otaola, Eliana Raszewski and Luc Cohen in Buenos Aires and Brendan Pierson in New York; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Howard Goller, Susan Thomas and Rosalba O’Brien