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Brazil’s Supreme Court reopens country’s biggest corruption trial

Thursday, September 19th 2013 - 08:04 UTC
Full article 16 comments
Former cabinet chief Jose Dirceu is the most notorious case Former cabinet chief Jose Dirceu is the most notorious case
Fears that if appeals proceed there could again be street demonstrations Fears that if appeals proceed there could again be street demonstrations

Brazil's Supreme Court has narrowly ruled in favour of reopening the country's biggest corruption trial. The court agreed that 12 of 25 people convicted in a scheme using public funds to pay parties for political support could have appeals heard.

The decision is set to anger many who expected the sentences to be upheld, but Judge Celso de Mello, who broke an earlier deadlock, said justice should not yield to popular pressure.

In a two hour-long statement, Mr Mello argued for the right of appeals on the grounds of human rights and the Brazilian law.

“For them to be exempt and independent, the judges cannot yield to the popular will, to the masses,” he said.

Last week, five judges voted to deny appeals against last year's Supreme Court Decision. Another five voted in favour.

The prospect of the tie-breaking vote of Judge Celso de Mello had the nation holding its breath for nearly a week. But the decision to reopen the Mensalao trial, which took four months to conclude in 2012, is controversial.

In Brasilia, protesters demonstrated against the appeal presented by the convicted in last year's trial.

The convictions in the trial prompted by one of the biggest corruption scandals in the country's recent history, known as the “Mensalao” (big monthly allowance to members of Congress to support government legislation), had been close, with at least 4 of the 10 Justices ruling against their convictions, in December 2012.

The new trial will examine part of the complaints faced by some of the most high-profile accused, such as Jose Dirceu, the chief of staff to former President Lula da Silva, and parliamentarians Joao Paulo Cunha and Jose Genoino, three top politicians of the ruling Workers' Party (PT).

The former leader, however, was cleared of any wrong-doing. The three deny the corruption charges. Three other politicians have been stripped of office by the trial.

The scandal, which erupted in 2005, for a time threatened to engulf the Lula da Silva administration but he was comfortably re-elected as president the following year. Lula da Silva Lula himself was not implicated in the case and has denied any knowledge of the scheme.

He left office at the end of 2010 with huge approval ratings, and remains a popular figure in Brazilian political life to the extent he sponsored and called on his followers to vote for the current president, Dilma Rousseff.
 

Categories: Politics, Brazil.

Top Comments

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  • Briton

    We wouldn’t worry to much,
    If Brazils justice is anything like ours,
    And their politicians, anything like some of ours,
    Justice will be a joke, the sentence with be in butlins,
    And a great future awaits them; just ask some of our corrupted politicians,

    One rule for them, and another rule for us..
    Just saying like..
    .

    Sep 19th, 2013 - 09:19 am 0
  • golfcronie

    @1
    I suggest that if you have proof of your statement you ought to contact the relevant authorities with your proof and do something about it.

    Sep 19th, 2013 - 11:25 am 0
  • Briton

    are you suggesting our MPs are all law abiding people.

    mmmmmmmm lol

    Sep 19th, 2013 - 11:33 am 0
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