Brazil Judge Decides This Monday If Lula and Wife Will Face Corruption Charges

    Judge Sérgio Moro - José Cruz/ABr

    Judge Sérgio Moro - José Cruz/ABr The indictment of former Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is now pending before Federal Judge Sérgio Moro in Curitiba, Paraná. He has five days to decide whether to accept the charges filed by the prosecutors working in the Operation Car Wash task force

    The operation was set up to investigate the massive corruption scandal involving the state-controlled oil multinational Petrobras. According to the press office of the federal court in Paraná, the judge’s decision will be published on Monday.

    If Moro upholds the charges, Lula will become a defendant in the case, alongside his wife Marisa Letícia, Paulo Okamoto, chairman of Instituto Lula, Leo Pinheiro, former CEO of OAS construction company and four people linked to the company.

    It is the first time formal charges have been preferred against the former president in a federal court. He is accused of corruption and money laundering by the 13 prosecutors who signed the charging instrument.

    Judge Sérgio Moro - José Cruz/ABr

    They claim Lula used a “criminal scheme” to muster political support for his government by paying kickbacks to lawmakers and doling out public jobs.

    The charging document gave details of the allegations against Lula and the other corruption indictees. It said the former president tried to secure lucrative contracts with Petrobras for CONPAR and CONEST consortia (in which OAS had a stake), for a project involving two Petrobras refineries between 2006 and 2012.

    The consortia are alleged to have secured contracts through the payment of kickbacks to a number of recipients including former president Lula.

    The second accusation, money laundering, was nearly 50 pages long and consisted of two parts. The first one revolved around a triplex beach apartment in Guarujá, São Paulo, which according to prosecutors was purchased, renovated, and decorated by OAS for Lula and his wife as a kickback for the former president’s favors in the Petrobras scheme.

    The prosecutors also accused Lula of receiving improper advantages from OAS through a personal property storage contract.

    The 13 prosecutors signing the document have not sought arrest warrants for any of the indictees. Prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol, leader of the task force that pressed the charges, said it was “standard” practice to avoid “prejudice”.

    However, they request that Judge Sérgio Moro order the former president to pay back US$ 26.3 million to Petrobras’s coffers. They have also listed 27 witnesses to be heard should the charges be upheld.

    Lula’s Reaction

    Lula defended himself against corruption charges, saying the case against him was an attempt to destroy him politically ahead of elections in 2018.

    Speaking a day after prosecutors accused him of masterminding a massive corruption scheme at state oil company Petrobras, the popular leader launched a wide-ranging defense of his career and legacy.

    He described both the case against him and unrelated charges that brought down his impeached successor, Dilma Rousseff, last month as part of an elite conspiracy against the powerful Workers’ Party he co-founded. Rousseff was replaced on August 31 by center-right President Michel Temer.

    “Like a soap opera intrigue, they created an epilogue: they elected Temer, removed Dilma from office… and now they want to destroy Lula’s political life,” he said, flanked by supporters at a press conference in São Paulo.

    Lula, a former shoeshine boy and steelworker who remains a hero to many poor Brazilians, presided over eight years of prosperity from 2003 to 2011, then handed power to Rousseff, his hand-picked successor.

    Wearing a red Workers’ Party shirt beneath a gray blazer, Lula recalled how social programs launched during his administration helped tens of millions of Brazilians escape poverty.

    “I’m proud to have created the largest left-wing party in Latin America,” said Lula, 70.

    The gravelly-voiced, charismatic leader is still seen as potential come-back material in Brazil – or was until recently. Polls show the founder of the Workers’ Party to be a favorite for returning to power in the next presidential elections in 2018.

    But his political project is in turmoil after Rousseff’s impeachment and his own legal troubles. Rousseff was convicted by the Senate on unrelated charges of accounting irregularities, but is broadly seen to be paying the price for the Petrobras scandal and Brazil’s worst recession in 80 years.

    The charges allege that Lula and his wife received the equivalent of 3.7 million reais (US$ 1.1 million) in bribes. Among the allegations are that Lula and former first lady Marisa Letícia received a beachside apartment and upgrades to the property from a major construction company, OAS, which was one of the players in the Petrobras scheme.

    Like a State Enemy

    Prosecutors of the anticorruption operation Lava Jato treated the former President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, as an enemy of the State and not like a human being, sustained professor of Constitutional Law and lawyer Pedro Estevan Serrano.

    It is evident the prosecutors did not treat Lula as a human being in the judicial sense – that has the protection of the law and of its fundamental and political rights, but as an enemy. A being without rights, he stressed.

    Serrano said this in statements to portal Vermelho, referring to Lula’s prosecutors Deltan Dallagnol and Roberson Henrique Pozzobom, who summoned a press conference to announce a charge against Lula, based on convictions and not evidence.

    To Serrano, the accusation made by Dallagnol that Lula headed a criminal organization and was ‘commander in chief’ of the corruption scheme in Petrobras known as Lava Jato without presenting proof and without appearing in the accusation, is terrifying.

    Dallagnol did that in a professional event, it was from his political convictions that the assertion originated that Lula was part of a criminal organization, he said.

    The eve, the former president and founder of the Workers’ Party (PT) answered publicly to the accusations of passive corruption and money laundering made by the prosecutors of Lava Jato and did that, ‘as an outraged citizen with things happening in this country’.

    Lula assured he was not discouraged but proud of knowing he is being persecuted for good things that the PT governmnents did for Brazil over the last 13 years.

    My conscience is calm and I keep a good humor, a known public history and a political life based on traveling all Brazil, sustained the ex president, who asked for respect for his family and to be treated honestly.

    If the PT governments had been absolute failure, there would not be such fierce hatred nor anger against the Party, he affirmed and recalled the success of inclusive social policies and ‘the petulance of electing and reelecting a woman (Dilma Rousseff).

    They invented a lie they turned into truth at the eyes of public opinion, in a night of hypocrisy and shame that Brazil will never forget, approve an impeachment that ended with ‘a calm and pacific coup’.

    After all that, now they want to finish the political life of Lula with a show of Fireworks, he observed.

    ABr/MP/PL

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