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Supreme Court Absolves Former Deputy's Crime Ending the Mensalão Trial

03/14/2014 - 08h31



Lacking Joaquim Barbosa, the president of the Supreme Court, presence the Court decided yesterday to absolve former Deputy João Paulo Cunha, from the Worker's Party (PT- SP), from the crime of money laundering at the end of the Mensalão trial.

The largest and most turbulent case analyzed in the history of the tribunal, consuming 69 sessions over 20 months, happened so that ministers would consider the evidence in the purchase of political support in Congress by PT, in the first government year of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, elected in 2003.

Ministers condemned 24 people, including leaders of financial institutions, entrepreneurs and the old PT members: former Minister José Dirceu, former President José Genoino and former treasurer Delúbio Soares, currently serving time in prison.

Revealed by Folha in 2005, the Mensalão, or the monthly allowance scheme, was the most relevant corruption case under Lula's government. The defendants were convicted of active and passive bribery, money laundering, mismanagement, embezzlement and tax evasion.

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Defense lawyers also promise two measures: to seek support at international courts on the grounds that it was a political trial and appeal on STF for criminal revision. This second strategy is seen as difficult to implement since it relies on new evidence, and there is no deadline for definition.

During this period, there were clashes between ministers, especially between the writer of the case, Barbosa, and the reviewer, Ricardo Lewandowski.

In a move that surprised the ministers, Barbosa did not participate in most of the session of the trial yesterday that, with 6 votes to 4 votes, absolved João Paulo of money laundering.

Ministers also absolved former aide to PP João Claudio Genu from participation in the corruption scheme since he was only charged for the crime of money laundering.

Most, however, keep the conviction of the former partner at the brokerage firm Bonus Banval Breno Fischberg.

Barbosa, for the first time since the start of the trial, did not give his vote to neither João Paulo nor Genu. The court's president arrived almost two hours late and only chaired the session right before closing.

The Supreme Court advising team reported that Barbosa had warned of the delay. He was, according to aides, working at home in other trials and accompanied the start of the trial through the TV Justiça channel.

Barbosa had expressed dissatisfaction with the course of the appeals trial in February, when the court analyzed the organized crime situation and the writer's position did not prevail with the new court decision - two ministers retired throughout the trial.

At the time, Barbosa said the STF lived "sad hours" for he had seen a "solid and well-reasoned " decision be overturned by a "circumstantial majority."

João Paulo was convicted on charges of corruption and embezzlement to 6 years and 4 months in prison and he is serving in semi-open regime in Brasilia. He can leave prison this year and receive benefits of reduced penalty provided by law.

The PT politician was found guilty of having received bribes to benefit companies from the manager of Mensalão, Marcos Valerio.

Translated by SIMONE PALMA

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