Brazil’s “major corruption trial” takes off Thursday and involves 38 politicians
Brazil’s Supreme Tribunal is preparing details for the so called “major trial” of the country’s history which accuses 38 high ranking politicians and officials involved in a 2005 corruption case which almost tumbled the government of then President Lula da Silva.
The “Penal Action case 470” is scheduled to begin next Thursday and among the accused are three former ministers and all the members from the ruling Workers party board of the time, to which also belongs current President Dilma Rousseff.
The list is completed with outstanding figures from four other political parties and several business people, the most notorious of which publicist Eduardo ‘Duda’ Mendonca who was head of the electoral campaign that took Lula da Silva to become president for the first time in 2002.
According to the Prosecution the charged are involved in a corruption web used to finance the presidential campaign of Lula da Silva and other PT candidates to different posts as well as bribing tens of lawmakers in support of government legislation since the Lula da Silva’s administration did not have the necessary majorities in congress.
The most outstanding of the accused is Jose Dirceu for decades one of the most important figures of PT together with Lula da Silva and who was named Secretary of the Presidency, a post from which he managed all the political contacts of the government.
Another accused is the former PT chairman and currently advisor to the Ministry of Defence, Jose Genoino, and the former treasurer of the party Delubio Soares who denies the bribes but admits 2002 campaign funds which went undeclared to electoral authorities.
Two former ministers, Information Luiz Gushiken and Transport Anderson Adauto, currently mayor of Uberaba and leader of the former Liberal Party which was forced to change its name to Party of the Republic because of the impact of the scandals, are also in the box of the accused. A former whip of the Lower House Joao Paulo Cunha also figures among the indicted.
The whole issue exploded when in June 2005, another accused and currently president of the Brazilian Labour Party, PTB, Roberto Jefferson and at the time member of the Lower House revealed that the PT had paid the equivalent of 1.6 million dollars for the support in Congress of the Lula da Silva administration.
Despite the prominence of the ruling party leaders involved, a majority among the 38 accused, the current PT president Rui Falcao is convinced that “nor the party or Lula da Silva” will be sentenced. Lula da Silva completed two consecutive terms, totalling eight years and stepped down in January 2011 with the support from 85% of public opinion.
“PT does not agree but will defend its affiliates” said Falcao who argues that if there is any evidence it refers to donations received for electoral campaigns and not declared, a minor administrative offence which has “prescribed”.
But for the Prosecutor General of the Republic Roberto Gurgel what happened “was the more daring and scandalous corruption schemes and deviation of government funds ever discovered in Brazil”.
In those words the Prosecutor addressed the Supreme Tribunal on the case which has 44.265 pages full of “documental evidence”. His opinion was supported by that of the former attorney general Antonio Fernandes who started the case and in an interview with O’Globo said “there were founded elements” to convict the accused.
The charges are to be read in the first session next Thursday and involve from active and passive corruption to money laundering to partnership in crime and dealing with hard currency, among other crimes. The Supreme Tribunal believes the case will take at least a month and only in mid September there will be sentencing.