Brazil court lets 12 appeal graft convictions
AFPBRASILIA, Brazil--Brazil's Supreme Court Wednesday ruled to allow sentencing appeals in the country's biggest political corruption scandal for a dozen of the defendants linked to the ruling Workers' Party.
September 20, 2013, 12:21 am TWN
Justice Celso de Mello cast the deciding vote in favor of the appeals, breaking last week's five-to-five tie among his colleagues on the 11-member court.
The court ruled that 12 of the 25 politicians, businessmen and bankers found guilty last December were entitled to a new trial, because they had obtained at least four votes on the court against their original convictions.
As a result, they could get reduced prison sentences for their convictions on criminal conspiracy and money laundering charges.
The so-called “Mensalao” scandal involves a congressional vote-buying scheme that ran during the first term of ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Wednesday's decision furthers delays a conclusion to the high-profile case, which nearly cost Lula his re-election in 2006, though the popular ex-president and PT founder was ultimately cleared of involvement.
Experts said the conclusion of the affair, which was expected this year, will now most likely drag into 2014, when presidential elections are scheduled.
Last December, the Supreme Court convicted 25 of 38 defendants, including three former Lula aides — notably ex-chief of staff Jose Dirceu, who was seen as the mastermind and received a jail term of 10 years and 10 months.