Brazilian Court convicts 12 politicians in Mensalão Scandal
October 2, 2012
By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | OCTOBER 2, 2012
The Brazilian Supreme Court convicted Monday afternoon 12 individuals from four different political parties which were government allies during the Lula administration. These convictions are part of the process known as Mensalão, a corruption case where 38 people were brought to trial charged with seven crimes including active and passive corruption, money laundering and gang formation.
So far the Supreme Court issued 22 convictions and four acquittals. The acquittals were issued due to what the court said was lack of evidence. Monday’s convictions relate to 12 politicians from the political parties known as PP, PR, PTB and PMDB, which up until today are close to the Brazilian government and members of the Executive power.
According to the judges from the Supreme Court these politicians, which include MPs and party chairmen, such as Roberto Jefferson, president of the PTB and informer in the corruption case since 2005, had created a corruption scheme that brought former President Lula da Silva to the brink of losing his mandate. Despite multiple accusations against Lula himself, the Court has refused to hear testimony from those who accuse him of knowing about the corruption scheme that paid political groups in exchange for political support.
These 12 politicians have been convicted of having bribed with money taken from public coffers, to amass support for the Lula government and sell their votes in favor of the bills introduced by the Government, including the reform of the Social Security System.
The dean of the Supreme, Celso de Mello, who sentenced the 12 politicians for the three crimes charged by the Attorney General, made a harsh reflection on the serious consequences of corruption by politicians who should be the guarantors of democratic ethics. Mello defined them as “empowered criminals.” He said that “no one lives with dignity in a state taken by corruption”.
Mello had question the very same projects approved by people being accused of bribery today. He remembered that, for example, the judgments issued by a corrupt judge is invalid. The Chief Justice Ayres Britto, quoted Ulysses Guimarães, while explaining that “political corruption is the cancer of democracy.”
In the next few days, the focus will be on the block of inmates that belong to the Workers Party (PT), who, when the scandal broke out, were the ones responsible for the corruption scheme. They include José Dirceu, Lula’s right hand man and two-time presidents of PT, the former party member José Genuino and the treasurer Delubio Suares.
The three are accused of bribery, and of being the corrupters of political allies and of forming an organized gang as they sought to perpetuate their grasp of power in Brazilian politics and the government.
The possible sentence for Dirceu is the trickiest because, according to political scientists such sentence would also taint former president Lula, who maintains that he did not know anything about the corruption scheme known as the Mensalão.
An acquittal of Dirceu, who still claims he is innocent of the charges, would indirectly absolve Lula who insists that the ongoing process in the Supreme is a way to put in doubt the projects that his government conducted during the eight years he was in power, which he says, helped 30 million Brazilians to get out of poverty.
The PT, one of the most corrupt organizations in the country, has called on its militants and social formations to take to the streets to “defend the attempted coup against Lula”.
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