Brazil dismisses officials over corruption allegations

November 26, 2012

BBC, 11/24/2012

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has dismissed a number of senior officials accused of involvement in the latest corruption scandal to hit the government.

Among those sacked are Rosemary de Noronha, who heads the regional office of the presidency in Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo, and Deputy Attorney General, Jose Weber Holanda.

The officials are accused of influence peddling, fraud and corruption.

They have not yet commented.

The dismissals come as another set of former government officials is being sentenced in an even larger corruption scandal, known as “Mensalao”, or Big Monthly Allowance

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A blow against impunity

November 15, 2012

H.J. – The Economist, 11/15/2012

Brazil’s mensalão trial has brought many historic moments (see here and here), and this week saw one more: an impeccably well-connected politico getting such a long prison sentence that even the best lawyer will struggle to save him from doing time. On November 12th José Dirceu, who served as chief of staff for former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from 2003 to 2005, was sentenced to ten years and ten months in jail for his part in the huge vote-buying scheme. Two other prominent members of the Workers’ Party (PT) also received stiff sentences: Delubio Soares, its former treasurer, got eight years and 11 months in prison, and José Genoino, its former president, six years and 11 months.

It sometimes appears that the Brazilian criminal-justice system locks people up on a whim. Half the prison population has either not yet been tried or is awaiting a final verdict, and much of the other half committed non-violent property or drugs crimes. But for those with resources, it allows huge scope for delay, leeway on sentencing and almost unlimited appeals. The three men, along with the other 22 who have been found guilty of crimes such as money-laundering, corruption, embezzlement and misuse of public money, benefited from a rule known as “privileged forum” which says that top politicians can only be tried for crimes in higher courts. In this case, the Supreme Court, which normally deals with constitutional, not criminal matters, had to decide to take the case. That meant that though the scandal surfaced in 2005, the trial only started this year, in August.

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