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Lula’s former aides sentenced
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Three former leaders of the Workers Party convicted of corruption.

On Nov. 12, the Supreme Federal Court sentenced José Dirceu, former head of the Cabinet of ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2011) to 10 years and 10 months in prison for corruption and conspiracy.

Also convicted as Dirceu’s accomplices were José Genoíno and Delúbio Soares, respectively the former president and former treasurer of the ruling Workers Party, or PT.

The court found former guerilla Dirceu, 66, to be the head of a corruption scheme that diverted public funds to bribe members of Congress during Lula’s first term from 2003 to 2007.

The scheme, known as “mensalão,” or monthly payment, came to light in a 2005 interview with federal congressman Roberto Jefferson, then president of the Brazilian Labor Party, or PTB, in which he explained how Soares made payments to parliamentarians of the People’s Party and the Liberal Party in return for their support for government initiatives in Congress. The payments, according to Jefferson, were monthly and amounted to 30,000 reals (US $12,000).

The so-called “trial of the century” began in August against 38 defendants, including former leaders of four political parties, the heads of public banks, financial traders, and advertising executives. The investigating judge, Joaquim Barbosa, said Dirceu played a key role in the payment to legislators.

According to Barbosa, there is evidence votes were bought, “placing the then-Cabinet Chief Minister at the center of the organization and leadership of the crime, as the one who ordered the promises of payments, giving unfair advantages to parliamentarians in exchange for their votes of support in their interest.”
The total bribes are estimate at $42 million. 

Dirceu declared his innocence and accused the Supreme Federal Court of violating the democratic rule of law with “theories and decisions that bend to the thirst for conviction, without ensuring the presumption of innocence or a more rigorous analysis of the evidence produced by the defense.”

Breno Altman, director of the news site Opera Mundi, called the trial “legalized fraud,” saying that the sentence is an attack to the PT, the left, and the Constitution.

“From beginning to end, what we saw was a series of acts violating the constitutional rights and the court’s own case law,” wrote Altman on the news site 247. “The evidence and testimonies in favor of the defendants were largely and unabashedly dismissed, while simple clues or inferences were treated without question as corroborating evidence.”

For Altman, what mattered to the court and to the mainstream press was to create the image that the PT and the government were building a parliamentary majority through the votes and the diversion of public funds under the direct responsibility of its main leaders.

“The conservative forces have formed, with this criminal action, a strategic platform to erode the authority of the PT, strengthen the judiciary ahead of institutions shaped by popular sovereignty, and re-legitimize the role of mainstream media as the moral compass of the country,” he said.
—Latinamerica Press.

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