Plot thickens in Barça’s illegal liver transplant scandal

Plot thickens in Barça's illegal liver transplant scandal
Photo: AFP
Prosecutors have asked a judge to issue a European warrant ordering Eric Abidal's cousin to take a probe to prove he donated part of his liver to the former FC Barcelona player, a spokesman for the prosecutors said Thursday.

The news comes one month after the Barcelona-based prosecutors asked for an investigation into allegations the football club illegally bought a liver transplant for their cancer-stricken ex-player be reopened after a court filed the case for lack of evidence.

Adding to the pressure, Spain's National Transplant Organisation (ONT) said Thursday it had joined prosecutors in asking that the investigation be reopened, even if it conducted its own probe and concluded the 2012 transplant was lawful.

It said it called “for all aspects of Mr. Abidal's transplant to be clarified once and for all.”

The fresh twists in the case come after online newspaper El Confidencial reported in July that wiretaps from a probe into corruption involving then-Barcelona president Sandro Rosell indicated the club may have illegally procured Abidal's transplant, which took place in April 2012.

Abidal, who is now Barcelona's sporting director, maintains that his cousin Gerard Armand was the donor.

The club and Barcelona's Hospital Clinic which carried out the transplant, also denied any irregularities in Abidal's transplant.

In an interview with French newspaper La Depeche du Midi in July, Armand, who lives in France, was adamant there had been nothing untoward.

He said that he was approached by Abidal's wife after the liver tumour was discovered in 2011.

“I didn't think about it, it was a good, normal action that anyone would do to help a sick relative,” he said, denying he had received money from FC Barcelona for it.