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  • Former Honduran President Rafael Callejas travels to the U.S. to face corruption charges linked to the FIFA scandal.

    Former Honduran President Rafael Callejas travels to the U.S. to face corruption charges linked to the FIFA scandal. | Photo: Reuters

Published 14 December 2015

Rafael Callejas is headed to New York where he will turn himself in to U.S. authorities who accuse him of receiving bribes linked to the FIFA corruption scandal.

Former Honduran President Rafael Callejas has boarded a plane headed for New York where he will turn himself in to face accusations that he received bribes totaling more than US$300,000 in relation to the FIFA corruption scandal that rocked the international soccer organization.

The Honduran foreign minister, Arturo Corrales, said Callejas will turn himself in to the U.S. authorities investigating the FIFA corruption scandal that requested his extradition.

“(Callejas) is travelling on a private flight. The plane was not facilitated by the Honduran government, nor is the plane related to any Honduran nor U.S. authority,” the minister added.

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Callejas, who served in office from 1990 through 1994, is one of several Central American former political officials wanted by the United States government on charges of corruption.

Corrales explained that a group of friends of Callejas decided along with the former president that the best way to confront the accusations was by him going to the U.S. voluntarily and not by extradition.

“He took the flight on his own initiative and with full autonomy in his decision up to the last moment,” Corrales added.

Callejas, 72, is travelling alone with no Honduran or U.S. official accompanying him, Corrales said.

Callejas is the former president of the Honduras National Soccer Federation, or Fenafuth, and is still a member of the FIFA Marketing Commission, according to Honduran news outlet La Prensa.

Callejas is accused of receiving over US$300,000 from Media World in bribes in exchange for granting them all rights to commercialize and televise the Honduras National Soccer team, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The official U.S. accusation says that “around 2012, the accused, Rafael Callejas and Alfredo Hawit, were president and secretary-general of the Fenafuth, respectively,” and that in Dec. 3, 2012, Media World paid them a total of US$600,000 in bribes.

The Department of Justice has accused at least 10 Concacaf officials of receiving US$10 million in bribes during three years “depriving their partners of an honest representation.”

“Within UNCAF, the Central American regional soccer union operating within Concacaf, the charges in the superseding indictment name the current and/or former presidents of nearly every country in the region: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama,” according to a U.S. Department of Justice Press release.

The U.S. Department of Justice unveiled a 92-count indictment targeting 16 officials on Dec. 3 as part of its broadening FIFA corruption investigation.

The charges allege years of bribes in relation to marketing and broadcasting rights for World Cup bids and soccer tournaments in Latin America.

The current presidents of Concacaf and Conmebol the governing bodies of South America and the North American, Central American and Caribbean regions, are included on the list.

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