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Statement from legal counsel for Fantoni/Nunes

Dear bridge winners followers,

I am Enrique Morera, legal counsel for Fantoni/Nunes. Allow me to make an introduction to this statement.

This is the first and, for obvious reasons, the last time that I will participate in this website regarding my clients’ case. I write at the invitation of one of your followers with the hope and conviction that the position of the defense may be, at least understood and, finally, respected. Even by those who have made indiscriminate insults with their manner of arguing and judging.

You shall forgive me for not responding to all of you, although a due response exists to each and every one of your comments, which I have read. I may not make a greater disclosure publicly at present. Furthermore, as you may well understand, the technical defense needs to be reserved before the proper Institutions although I am aware that, in reality, we are facing a “media case”.

Bridge is a game that awakens passions, affiliations and phobias, at the same time cheating causes rejection and astonishment in all of us, who love this incredible game. I should not be the one here reporting small or significant irregularities which are committed whilst playing bridge. It is enough to see any tournament, even of the beginners.

These irregularities of all types are, unfortunately, widespread. Nothing justifies them since they discredit the game and also the person who commits them. Cheating in bridge, whatever its nature must be eliminated and a struggle must continue from the institutions and from the players who have a great responsibility and who on many occasions act with a certain tolerance towards those who commit them.

This, however, must not be done at any price. It is commonly understood amongst lawyers and judges, under the rule of law, that the aphorism which states “it is better that one-hundred guilty people escape than one innocent person suffers”. Much has advanced with the development of the democratic system until the time where now honor tribunals have disappeared, popular justice through juries are submitted to very strict rules under the control of professional judges and the accused has fundamental rights which may not be infringed.

Although European and a proud Spanish national, my admiration for the rights and liberties of the American legal system are also tied close by family roots with the U.S. We Europeans have learned many things from the U.S. justice system, chiefly, that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

For all these reasons, and although I understand the situation, I have been surprised by the rush to judgment and condemnation of two high level players that has been occurring in this publication. I say this for two reasons. Under the assumption that they are guilty or innocent, can anyone argue that, in both cases, the accused deserve (i) a fair trial with all the possibilities to a defense, and (ii) that they should not be condemned in advance?Both matters, I fear, have not been respected and I say this from the defense but based on verifiable facts.

We shall see, as an example, some comments on the net, which are highly significant for whom and when they were made:

i.- Firstly, Jeffrey John (Jeff) Meckstroth, an American professional contract bridge player and member of the ACBL who made the following comments in Bridge Winners:

Germany to Withdraw from Bermuda Bowl

Jeff Meckstroth

"50 years in prison for F-N and F-S not enough IMO." Sept. 20, 2015

Would the recorder system be able to catch a pair like Fantunes ?

Jeff Meckstroth

"The recorder system can work if players will spend the 5-10 minutes required to fill them out completely. There were surprisingly few of them filed on F-N. I have suggested to ACBL that the forms be more visible at NABC's such as on the supply tables by convention cards." Sept. 16, 2015

ii.- Carlo Totaro, the alleged expert was appointed by the Procuratore Federale to verify the fundamental accusation made by Mr. Brogeland in:, has stated on the web against my clients unambiguously and with a bias with which I cannot but completely disagree with and which demonstrates, without a doubt, a prejudice and position-taking against my Clients which predisposes him towards my Clients and invalidates and disqualifies him to carry out any expert report.

21 settembre 2015 alle ore 14:14 • Mi piace • 2

"Carlo Totaro probabilmente, anzi certamente, se il caso di salso fosse accaduto oggi la mia opinione sul caso sarebbe stata differente, ma a giugno non c'erano segnalazioni a carico dei due accusati nell'archivio della federazione, e questo ha pesato."

And here is where a matter arises that surely will not go unnoticed. How can the objectivity of the respective associations and institutions which need to rule on this case be possible in the light of brutal and great or intense media pressure?

We believe that in spite of everything, and owing to the overwhelming rebuttal evidence, this objectivity will remain. But you shall no doubt agree with me that there is a maximum amount of pressure, whereby even in case of doubt the balance may tip towards condemning them, even if unconsciously. How to explain an acquittal to those who have already condemned for something that appears irrefutable?

This is what was sought and this is what has been obtained.

It is easily understandable that before what appears as evidence of guilt (the famous Youtube video), those who access it, assume they are guilty. Wherein independently of the result of the proceeding of my clients, we are still waiting for the prestigious ACBL to carry out the mandate foreseen in article 3.4 of the American Contract Bridge League Code of Disciplinary Regulations:

“3.4 Accusations of unethical bridge conduct at an ACBL sanctioned event, not made privately to a tournament director or other tournament official. Private and confidential conversations are not within the ACBL’s jurisdiction even if they take place at a tournament site. OFFENSE: C10 Publicly accuse another player of unethical bridge behavior (CDR 3.4 and 3.7) RECOMMENDED DISCIPLINE: 180 days Probation and or up to 180 days Suspension MANDATORY MASTER POINT PENALTIES: None”

This regulation is of utmost importance as it specifically prohibits any public judgment which could question the honor of the suspect to avoid predetermining the sole and only sentencing which must occur. If the ACBL does not act in this regard it would be incomprehensible and we would stand before a double standard.

This is the situation at hand and the reason for which I also respond to my dear Canadian colleague with whom I cannot but agree when speaking of the public intervention of lawyers.

I will also state that this is the first time in my professional career (and many years of practice) that I have granted an interview on a case. Obviously it is not about publicity, not only because it is unnecessary, but also because the reaction, as has been seen, may be directly contrary. Even then, the risk is worth it, because not only must the defense be legal and with technical arguments regarding the accusations of the Institutions of the different proceedings, but also because I have considered it my duty –not at all comfortable, by the way- to also defend the honor of my Clients when they have been unfairly attacked and condemned in advance. It is even more important when the Institutions remain incomprehensibly passive.

Certainly, we find ourselves before a media case in which, unfortunately, and owing to deontological duties, I cannot nor may I carry out a full public disclosure. However, some facts related to the video that was uploaded on the Internet before any complaint, must be highlighted.

As you know, it mentions an alleged code which functions in accordance to a set of horizontal or vertical positions of a card. Evidently what is decisive to establish any fit is the consideration that the position of the card will be in a horizontal or vertical position. The first question then to ask is, when is a card considered to be horizontal or vertical? When it is placed on the table, before playing the dummy, or prior to a partner playing? How are the vertical or horizontal cards to be considered? Depending on the degree of inclination? What should the degree of inclination be in order to establish whether the card is horizontal or vertical? And how are those, which are diagonal to be considered: vertical, horizontal or simply to be discarded? Although, for those who have already sentenced, the answers to the questions might not matter, in a fair trial, the response is highly relevant. I hope that no one is going to find themselves indifferent in the face of the blatant manipulation of the video. Let´s take a look.

In the video (made without any warranty) significant differences can be seen to such an extent that we can state, without any doubt, that the video has been prefabricated to obtain the highest number of fits to the hypothesis which has been presented. As an example see the following:

- In the match against Germany, board 7 (minute 38:38 of, the player leads with a two and the position of the card is said to be ambiguous because "Nunes leads vertically and spins it before stopping it horizontally".

However, were it not for the fact that the video suspiciously freezes the image just when the card (a 2) was in a vertical position, it can be seen that the card is clearly horizontal.

- In the match against Germany, board 8 (minute 46:26 of, the card is stated to be ambiguous because "Fantoni plays a horizontal card but he flips it to vertical while declarer is thinking".

However, after viewing the video it can be seen that just after setting the card down, it is placed in a vertical position and remains that way. The conclusion, which can also be applied to the other manipulations, is clear.

Since the position is vertical, the card should be regarded as a no fit. But this is disregarded because it lowers the percentage of coincidences, since by classifying the card as ambiguous the percentage of coincidences hardly varies under the calculation system used.

- In the match against Denmark, board 17 (minute 14:58 of, the card is stated horizontal up to minute 16:34 when it is put diagonal. At this point EBL indicates that it is vertical. Amazing.

These are just some examples. With similar manipulations, in the video there are so many manipulations directly geared to prefabricate guilt. Is this just? Can a judgment be anticipated based on this?

These are facts which at this point in time you should know and not to establish the innocence or the guilt of anyone but so that we may ask whether the end justifies the means. Do you think it is lawful to manipulate a film and mislead the public?

Moreover, let us also speak a little of the alleged code in light of the comments that I have been able to read. Do you think it is the same to have data and build a code as opposed to having a code and seeing if the data adapts to it?

Or is it not more logical that in order to blame someone it is better to check the use of the alleged code in future events? I ask myself, if there exists a hypothetical code based on certain data, what would be the percentage of fits? Obviously it would have to be significant as the code has been construed on facts that have already occurred.

The existence of a code has not been demonstrated, but the exact opposite. Please, despite what each may be convinced of, one must recognize that these are not one and the same thing.

Even then, it is significant that the number of fits is well below that, which has been stated up to now to such a degree that the accusation is no longer (with an incomprehensible change in accusation: mutatio libelli) of its existence in the third hand but rather it is limited to the lead. Accordingly, the defense is facing a different code!

I have read the commentaries that codes cannot be found in other players. It is only a question of time and means, given that in a sequence of certain events one may, as can confirm any mathematician, to create a hypothetical code (on past events) in which one could single out, for example, the number of cards, red or black suit, interest in one suite or the other based on gradient of inclination of the card, if the card is touched or not once on the table, of the number of cards upon which data is obtained, of the intermittent or permanent use of transmission of information… Ultimately, on any given past facts a code may be construed. It is simply a matter of patience and means. This is undeniable. We have had the patience and evidences will be provided in this regard with percentages of 100% fit.

In any case, I do not seek to convince anyone. I am conscious that what will matter is the final ruling more than any reasonable doubt, the only ruling possible, because to demonstrate innocence is much more difficult than to prove one guilty. I have read things that give me goosebumps, such as that it is sufficient to condemn when a tribunal is convinced and that reasonable doubt does not apply to bridge. Incredible!

Let us proceed.

As I have said in my interview with Mr. Van Cleef, and which is perfectly verifiable, the facts under appeal, following the ruling of the FIGB are, amongst others, the following:

- The FIGB did not wait for the EBL to rule on its proceeding, in clear contradiction with the decision of the FIGB in the hearing of the 19 of December of 2015. In fact, although in that first hearing the FIGB expressly decided to suspend the proceeding until the 19 of March awaiting the decision by the EBL, in the hearing of the 19 of March of 2016, instead of suspending the proceeding until the EBL reached its decision, the FIGB, without prior notice, decided to give a 180ª turn and sentenced Mr. Fantoni and Nunes, thus violating their right to a defense.

- The FIGB suddenly stated in its ruling that it did not admit the writ of the defense and the evidence filed on the 17 of December of 2015 as it considered that they were filed past deadline. This was really surprising and unacceptable if we consider that it was filed within the deadline, and that the hearing was suspended until the 19 of March of 2016 whereby the writ and evidence were filed four months before. It simply did not interest them. We must condemn in any case. We shall certainly not be helping bridge and the pretended goal.

- The FIGB has admitted the report of Mr. Totaro as evidence, without even reviewing it. In fact, the report of Mr. Totaro mentions that he has not proven the origin nor credibility of the video upon which the report is based.

- The FIGB also bases its decision on games held in the championship in Bermuda Bowl 2013 when the report of Mr. Totaro does not make any reference to it. The poor film quality of the videos of this championship does not allow one to reach any conclusions after their viewing.

And now the Procuratore Federale has filed an appeal against the decision of the FIGB, asking for the life suspension of my Clients. This has no paragon in the history of punitive sports law and we are certain that, sooner or later, this shall be revoked.

This is part of what has occurred and there is no inconvenience in making it public because these are facts which are prior to any proceeding or, as regards the FIGB, on a proceeding whose first phase has already finished.

In truth, assuming that what I say is true (it would be ridiculous to lie about easily verifiable facts). Does it not seem that all of this matter is very odd? Is it reasonable that it began with an altered video? Is it reasonable that –no doubt coordinated- hundreds of condemnations have been posted without questioning anything? Is it reasonable to reject evidence? Is it reasonable to change the accusation mid-way in a proceeding? Is it reasonable that three Institutions are to decide on the same facts? These are how things stand and my Clients must face this with the conviction that their innocence shall prevail.I perfectly know that this statement will in no way change the opinion of those who have already judged and condemned. On the contrary, the discrediting remarks will continue with disregard to the most basic rules of respect to the honor of the two players who have seen their selves immersed in a tsunami, for reasons, which do not matter at present but that are easy to imagine.

The only certainty, and I address you, users and readers in good faith of this page, is that what has occurred to my Clients in the media, could happen to those who hold the noose of the lynching because innocent are facing a media wall, created by all types of interests, which seek to exert a maximum pressure on the Institutions. Indeed, until now, the modus operandi of the institutions (ACBL, EBL, FIGB) and his way of acting, seems that a predetermined condemnation existed and I am afraid that if I am not deeply wrong and if the prudence doesn’t prevail, this will end in superior instances.Meanwhile, two top level players have been eliminated from the upcoming competitions without having the opportunity to defend themselves. The damage is done.

The innocent that today condemns, at whatever price, should ask himself how he would act and think, if tomorrow he was faced with a similar situation. Anyone, even be it for vengeance or personal interest, could make a video, prefabricate evidence and publicize it on Youtube and the net. Even though innocent, the damage would already be done and doubt surrounding him would exist.

Today there is nothing more to do than fully trust in the objectivity and, at last, good practices of the Institutions which also have been immersed in a tsunami which, in spite of actions we cannot agree to, we are sure that their actions will be in accordance to the Rule of Law. We are still in time to avoid an enormous injustice in the name of a just cause. Thus, my Clients only wish to see their honor reinstated in the system, without pressure or threats.If not, we would be facing a pantomime in which the whole proceeding and the hearing would make no sense and the matter would unfortunately end in higher instances with verdict of non-guilty. If this were the case, It would show the bridge institutions, with a predetermined decision, in a very poor light, which involves serious damages to the bridge world.

Of course, we cannot stop thinking about that possibility because the own statements of the EBL President are:

“The EBL is competent to all event happening during the EBL Championships and is the only one. The EBL disciplinary commission will look what happens in Opatija in 2014. No more no less. I regret the decisions of DBV and FIGB took for internal reasons. In addition Fantoni Nunes for all Bridge instances are registered in Monaco and not in Italy. But it will not change the work of the EBL about Opatija. And will have no influence for the EBL Disciplinary Commission.

LC:Why do you regret the decisions taken by FIGB and the DBV, could you clarify your views on this subject?

I regret not the decision but the fact they took a decision on a matter regarding only the EBL.” (¬president¬lays-law.html)."

It does not seem very appropriate, even more when from the president of the institution and its agencies, the members of the courts are elected. Of course, this would have had a limited significance if we hadn’t recently received a new accusation from the EBL and the EBL only provided us 20 days to analyze everything and submit our defense and when we asked for a suspension they rejected. And all of that when the EBL has had more than five months to analyze our submissions and reports and they used them to prepare a new accusation with new reports that would obviously be destroyed.

Due to all the above, I only wish to make a request from this place: allow my Clients to prepare their defense from the peace to which they have a right to, so that the Institutions do not fall to the temptation of condemning them without reasonable certainty.

We think all we said, and we say it in the same place that some people have used to put pressure on the institutions. We still do not understand how it is possible that the people publicly making such accusations are not being prosecuted by those instuitions when that behavior is expressly banned.

Thank you for your attention.

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