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Judge Acquits Lula of Obstruction of Justice Charges Concerning Lava Jato Investigation

07/13/2018 - 11h40

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FÁBIO FABRINI
RUBENS VALENTE

BRASÍLIA

On Thursday (the 12th), Judge Ricardo Augusto Soares Leite, of the 10th Federal Court in Brasília, acquitted former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and six defendants of obstruction of justice charges concerning the Lava Jato investigation. This is the first time that Lula has been found not guilty in a Lava Jato lawsuit.

Lula, former senator Delcídio Amaral (Mato Grosso do Sul), banker André Esteves, cattle rancher Carlos Bumlai and his son Maurício Bumlai, had been accused of participating in a plot to bribe former International Director of Petrobras Nestor Cerveró in exchange for his silence, keeping him from reaching a plea-bargain agreement that could implicate them. Mr. Cerveró's lawyer, Edson Ribeiro, and Delcídio Amaral's former chief of staff, Diogo Ferreira, were also absolved.

The investigation was based on a recording from 2015 of Nestor's son Bernardo Cerveró and Delcídio Amaral in which the latter promised he would help Bernardo's father (who was in jail at the time) flee the country and give him a monthly allowance of R$ 50,000 (approximately US$ 12,900).

The recording led to the arrest of Delcídio Amaral, who later signed a plea-bargain agreement in which the other alleged participants were implicated.

AP Photo/Denis Ferreira Netto
In July 8, 2018 photo, a supporter of ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva holds a flag that reads in Portuguese: "Free Lula," in front of the Federal Police Department where Da Silva is serving jail time in Curitiba, Brazil. A Brazilian appeals court judge has ordered Da Silva released from jail on, but another judge has asked the police to hold off on the order.
In July 8, 2018 photo, a supporter of ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva holds a flag that reads in Portuguese: "Free Lula," in front of the Federal Police Department where Da Silvia is serving jail time in Curitiba, Brazil. A Brazilian appeals court judge has ordered Da Silva released from jail on, but another judge has asked the police to hold off on the order.

In 2017, prosecutor Ivan Claudio Marx called for the acquittal of Lula and Mr. Esteves. He maintained that the criminal hearings revealed that Delcídio Amaral had lied and that he was the one who was truly interested in keeping Nestor Cerveró quiet. The prosecutor put in a request to cancel Amaral's plea-bargain agreement. The request is currently being analyzed by the General Prosecutor's Office (PGR).

Leite concluded that the proceedings did not confirm the accusations. He maintained that the recording was illicit and that it had been pre-meditated.

The attorneys of Lula, Mr. Esteves and Mr Bumlai welcomed the decision. Delcidio's attorneys could not be reached for comment.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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