( REUTERS) – After spending the day in a Trinidad and Tobago jail, former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner, accused the U.S. of conducting a “witch hunt” in its pursuit of world soccer officials on corruption charges.
At a news conference on Thursday evening, Warner lashed out at U.S. investigator, Michael Garcia.
“The person that did the investigation is an American, Michael Garcia. The country that bid for the World Cup and failed, is America,” he said.
Warner is among nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives charged by the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday with running a criminal enterprise that involved more than $150 million in bribes. FIFA is the global body governing soccer.
Once one of the most powerful men in FIFA, Warner surrendered to authorities on Wednesday after U.S. officials sought his extradition.
Prosecutors say Warner solicited bribes worth $10 million from the South African government to host the 2010 World Cup and diverted bribes for personal use.
Warner issued a statement protesting his innocence on Wednesday as FIFA reeled from police raids in Switzerland and the United States, as well as a second investigation opened by the Swiss authorities into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Warner, who faces 12 charges included racketeering and bribery, said on Wednesday he was innocent and noted he had left soccer activities four years ago. “Over the past several years I have recommitted my life to the work of improving the lot of every citizen of every creed and race in this nation,” he said in a statement.