Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gave a statement to CNN Brazil about former President Lula da Silva, who now enjoys full political rights. Lula, who had been found guilty on corruption crimes and money laundering, has been completely freed after his sentences were annulled in the context of Operation Lava Jato (Car Wash).
Bolsonaro said that the Brazilian people do not want Lula da Silva either as a candidate or as president. “I believe the Brazilian people do not even want a candidate like that [Lula] in 2022, much less [his] possible election.” The president also added that Judge Edson Fachin, responsible for the annulment, has strong ties to the PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores, Workers’ Party in English)
What was Operation Lava Jato?
Operation Lava Jato was launched by the Brazilian Federal Police to investigate a corruption scheme of approximately $2.64 billion, considered the largest in Brazil’s history.
The investigations revealed a large corruption scheme involving Petrobras, several politicians in the country (especially from the Workers’ Party), the largest Brazilian contractors such as Odebrecht and several companies in other branches (gas stations and car wash chains, hotel chains, etc.).
Former president Lula da Silva, who owned a property in Atibaia, São Paulo, was among those involved in the billion-dollar scheme. According to prosecutors, the property underwent renovations financed by the companies Odebrecht, OAS, and Schahin for the benefit of the PT and his family. As retribution, these three contractors were awarded contracts with Petrobras.
Lula was sentenced to almost 13 years in prison for the first crime. For the second crime, the sentence extended to more than 17 years.
The annulment of his sentences makes Lula da Silva eligible for election
Judge Edson Fachin, of the STF (Supreme Federal Court), annulled all of Lula da Silva’s convictions by the Federal Justice of the state of Paraná related to Operation Lava Jato.
Fachin, having also granted him habeas corpus, declared that the court that led the investigations against the former president does not have jurisdiction to judge the processes of the luxury apartment in Guarujá, São Paulo, on his property in Atibaia, and the others related to the Lula Institute, since the cases are not limited only to the deviations that occurred in Petrobras, but also to other public administration bodies.
With the judge’s decision, Lula regains his political rights and can run for president in 2022. However, the annulment still has to be evaluated by the Supreme Court (made up mostly of judges appointed by the former president and his protégé Dilma Rousseff, and the former PT lawyer, José Antonio Dias Toffoli).
Lula’s defense stated in a press release that the incompetence of the Federal Court of Curitiba to judge the improper accusations against the former president was the thesis defended by them since 2016, and that is why they receive the annulment of his sentences with “serenity.”
Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro affirmed that “there is no way not to see the corruption scandals during Lula’s time in the presidency.” The son of the current president added that clearing the “file” (the dossier) of the leader of the Workers’ Party will only increase the feeling of dissatisfaction of the population.