By Eric Nepomuceno / Source Resumen Latinoamericano / January, 30, 2016. He will have to testify in court for the alleged corruption scandal in Petrobras.
Hunting season against former Brazilian President Lula da Silva is now Open
Last Friday, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his wife Marisa were called to testify on February 17 before a prosecutor of first instance, not as witnesses but to investigate them. The prosecutor, Cassio Conserino, said that there are indications of an attempt to hide the true identity of the owner of an apartment in Guaruja, a middle-class beach, 67 kilometers away from Sao Paulo.
Although there is no real novelty concerning the issue —Lula always admitted having bought, in 2004, a share in the construction of a building on that beach—, the apartment served as a pretext to change the former President’s status to ‘investigated’. For at least a year, each step of the operation called “Lava Jato” (Quick Wash), which tries to reveal the corruption scheme in Petrobras, did nothing more than look for ways to somehow involve Lula da Silva in the plot.
Regarding the mentioned triplex (the department occupies the top three floors of the building), Lula claims to have paid, between 2004 and 2010, monthly contributions under the contract of purchase option in 2015 and declined to exercise that option, which was also provided in the agreement.
To be able to put Lula da Silva, who remains the main political reference of Brazil, under the title of “investigated subject” was clearly a goal of the investigation carried out by judge Sergio Moro.
The young regional prosecutors, inexperienced and quite ambitious, made no effort to disguise their desire to excel as champions of justice. Thus, the current wave of investigations, despite all the judicial aberrations blithely ignored by the media, intend to be an example of that the impunity of the powerful has come to an end. And to best display this, how about having Lula da Silva, the most popular of Brazilian presidents in over half a century, in jail?
In recent days, despite having repeatedly denied that the former President was under investigation, it has become obvious that linking Lula to the scandal was not only an objective, but was the main focus of the operation.
The very obvious and selective “leaked” information (which was supposedly under judicial secrecy) to the press, focused on the issue of the apartment, which has an estimated market value of 400,000 dollars. The suspicion, according to the federal police, is that Lula did not buy the property, but received it as a bribe in the corruption scandal of Petrobras. For São Paulo’s fiscal, there is a clear mechanism of concealment of assets, because the property is still, in formal records, property of the constructor (however, it is worth remembering that Lula turned down the possibility of exercising the purchase option).
This is definitely something unusual. First, the law does not empower a prosecutor to announce to the press that he intends to denounce someone. That only could be a basis for lawyers of said person to denounce the prosecutor for obvious bias, in prejudice of the defense. Second, in the affidavit of heritage, the couple Marisa and Lula da Silva said they have a share of the cooperative that built the building and that it gave them the option of doing business or giving up the right to purchase and recover the value (updated to the date of resignation).
It is important to know these details because the campaign against Lula, gleefully fueled by Brazilian mainstream media, tends to grow, tarnishing a possible presidential candidacy in 2018.
Lawyers for the prisoners of the “Lava Jato” operation have admitted in racks that, on a daily basis, their clients receive the same offer from federal police interrogators and from prosecutors working under the orders of province Judge Sergio Moro: a denounce, of whichever nature, against Lula da Silva. In exchange, they offer to include the prisoner in a program of awards, that is, a drastic reduction in the sentence, which generally results in the release of the prisoner. And in the shadows of the cells, where important businessmen and business intermediaries are confined, psychological pressure is exerted without truce, always with the objective of reaching Lula da Silva.
To check the denounces is part of the agreement. But as long as the alleged evidence is not analyzed, reputations are buried.