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A Majority in Brazil's Supreme Court Wants to Limit Partial Immunity

11/24/2017 - 11h14

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FROM SÃO PAULO

A majority of the justices in Brazil's Supreme Court (STF) voted to limit partial immunity to congressmen and senators only.

On Thursday (the 23rd) the court decided to resume discussions on the matter that first arose back in May of this year. However, proceedings were once again interrupted after justice Dias Toffoli requested additional time to review the case.

Given that the court has not yet arrived at a ruling and that justices can still change their votes, the partial result will not alter the current rules regarding partial immunity.

Eight of the 11 justices believe that partial immunity (which requires that defendants be tried in the Supreme Court) should only be maintained in the case of politicians who have been accused of committing a crime during the term they happen to be carrying out. In order to qualify for partial immunity the crime should also be connected to their exercise of office.

According to some judges, such modifications would mean that 90% of criminal proceedings in the Supreme Court would be transferred to lower courts.

Pedro Ladeira/Folhapress
Supreme Court justices Dias Toffoli and Gilmar Mendes
Supreme Court justices Dias Toffoli and Gilmar Mendes

Currently, different authorities qualify for partial immunity depending on the position they hold. Ministers, lawmakers and the president may only be tried in the Supreme Court. Governors are tried in the Superior Court of Justice (STJ) while mayors are tried in Regional Federal Courts (TRF).

Under the current legislation, if a citizen who committed a crime gets elected to office as a congressman or senator, for example, then the case that was being tried in a lower court gets bumped up to the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court fails to conclude the trial by the time they leave office, then the case gets sent back to a lower court.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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