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Prosecutor-General to Request Opening of Investigation into Rousseff and Lula

05/03/2016 - 10h33

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MÁRCIO FALCÃO
AGUIRRE TALENTO
GABRIEL MASCARENHAS
FROM BRASÍLIA

The Brazilian Prosecutor-General has decided to request the opening of a Supreme Court investigation into President Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, as well as Education minister Aloizio Mercadante and Marcelo Navarro, a judge at the High Court of Justice.

The case against Rousseff, Lula and Navarro is based on the plea bargain by senator Delcídio do Amaral (ex-PT, Mato Grosso do Sul) and the document sent from the Prosecutor-General to the Supreme Court, requesting that Lula's appointment as Chief-of-Staff be annulled.

Mercadante is suspected of attempting to pervert the course of justice, having allegedly tried to prevent Amaral from striking a plea bargain with prosecutors. Mercadante offered Amaral financial help and promised to lobby the Supreme Court for his release.

Prosecutors believe that the evidence against Rousseff is strong enough to justify an inquiry into whether she acted with the intention of obstructing the investigations into the corruption scheme at Petrobras or acted dishonestly at all.

Some of the documents completed by the Prosecutor-General will arrive at the Supreme Court with a special seal, signifying the utmost confidentiality.

In his plea bargain, Amaral claimed that the Rousseff administration attempted to influence the Lava Jato investigations in the higher courts in order to, for example, free some of the leading business figures who have been imprisoned. Navarro's name came up in these allegations.

For prosecutors, the attempted appointment of Lula as Chief-of-Staff was part of a government attempt to "disrupt" investigations into irregularities at Petrobras and remove any investigations involving Lula from the remit of judge Sergio Moro, guaranteeing Lula the right to privileged jurisdiction.

Rodrigo Janot, the Prosecutor-General, told the Supreme Court that this constituted an abuse of power. Prosecutors claim this was reinforced by a recording of a telephone conversation between Lula and the President, in which she said she was sending him his ministerial papers in case he needed them.

This recording is controversial, as it was made after the courts ordered that the tapping of Lula's phone be stopped. However, prosecutors believe that it is still legal.

However, the judge Teori Zavascki, who is leading the Lava Jato investigations in the Supreme Court, said at a plenary session of the court that it would be difficult to accept this evidence.

However, some members of the Supreme Court believe that the fact President Rousseff admitted having the conversation with Lula in an official statement could constitute an extrajudicial confession, which would render the debate about the admissibility of the recordings irrelevant.

Lula's appointment as Chief-of-Staff remains suspended, on the orders of judge Gilmar Mendes. However, thanks to Zavascki's latest decision, Lula may only be investigated in the Supreme Court - for now at least.

Prosecutors are now working on defining exactly how Lula will be investigated as part of Lava Jato; in other words, which investigations should remain with the Supreme Court and what can be transferred to the court in Paraná which has led the investigations. They admit that the situation is delicate.

It is expected that the request for the investigations be submitted to the Supreme Court in the coming weeks.

THE OTHER SIDE

At the time of President Rousseff's attempted appointment of Lula as Chief-of-Staff, her press secretary stated that she offered to send Lula his ministerial papers because he was unsure as to whether he would be able to attend the appointment ceremony and that there was no intention to obstruct the Lava Jato investigations.

Rousseff also denied Amaral's allegations, rejecting any suggestion that she tried to interfere in the Lava Jato investigations.

She also said that Lula's appointment had been discussed since last year and that there no intention to alter the jurisdiction to which he would be entitled.

Marcelo Navarro denies agreeing to free imprisoned business leaders upon being appointed to the High Court of Justice.

Mercadante admitted offering help to Amaral, but he said that there was no intention to prevent him from striking a plea bargain with prosecutors.

Translated by TOM GATEHOUSE

Read the article in the original language

Alan Marques - 26.out.2014/Folhapress
President Dilma Rousseff and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
President Dilma Rousseff and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

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