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Brazilian Lula's former aide to face corruption trial

Tuesday, August 28th 2007 - 21:00 UTC
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Jose Dirceu former chief of staff Jose Dirceu former chief of staff

Brazil's Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a corruption case against former Cabinet members in a 2005 bribes-for-votes scandal that seriously damaged the reputation of the president's party.

The most prominent defendant, former chief of staff Jose Dirceu, helped engineer President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's historic 2002 election. Once the second-most powerful man in Latin America's largest nation, Dirceu now stands accused of orchestrating the alleged scheme to buy support from congressmen so they would support Silva's congressional agenda. Dirceu was forced to resign after news of the scandal broke, along with other prominent members of Silva's Workers' Party who now face charges before the high court: former party president Jose Genoino, former party treasurer Delubio Soares; former Transportation Minister Anderson Adauto; and congressmen from allied parties. Dirceu and the politicians targeted by federal prosecutors have denied the charges. Also facing charges is Congressman Roberto Jefferson, a former government ally who has testified before Congress that the Workers Party financed campaigns illegally and paid legislators monthly bribes for their support. The Workers' Party, once considered a bastion of ethics in Brazilian politics, acknowledged irregularities in its campaign financing, and Jefferson was later expelled from his post for not proving the corruption allegations. Silva was never implicated in the scandal, but the controversy helped prevent him from pushing through important legislative efforts such as labor and pension reform, seen as crucial to reducing the extremely high cost of doing business in Brazil. The political opposition seized on the scandal in the 2006 presidential election, when Silva was forced into a second-round runoff. He went on to win a resounding victory, largely on the strength of Brazil's booming economy and an internationally recognized anti-poverty program that hands out monthly payments to poor Brazilians. Dirceu has been described as the mastermind of the payments, which Jefferson said involved monthly bribes of about US$13,000 (€9,500) to congressmen so they would vote in line with the Workers' Party. His allied party alone received some US$2 million (€1.5 million

Categories: Politics, Brazil.

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