By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – After almost three years after being convicted of a vote-buying scandal known as mensalão, Henrique Pizzolato, the former marketing director of Banco do Brasil, is back on Brazilian soil and headed for Brasilia’s Papuda Prison to serve his term.
Pizzolato was convicted of passive corruption and money laundering in August of 2012 and sentenced to twelve years and seven months. He was accused of receiving more than R$325,000 from the corruption scheme.
While waiting for his appeals to be judged, Pizzolato, who also has Italian citizenship, escaped to Argentina, where he boarded a plane to Italy in November of 2013. He eluded authorities by traveling under his dead brother’s passport and identification.
In February of 2014 he was captured in the Italian town of Maranello and Brazilian authorities began extradition proceedings. After a series of appeals by Pizzolato’s lawyers, Italian courts, in October of 2014, accepted claims by the former director’s attorneys that Brazilian prisons did not meet basic human rights standards and denied extradition. Brazilian authorities appealed the decision and in the beginning of October, 2015 the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of the Brazilian government.
Pizzolato will serve his time in the same prison that held former Chief of Staff, José Dirceu, former PT party treasurer, Delúbio Soares and former PT House Representative José Genoíno, all convicted of the mensalão scandal. All three were later transferred to house arrest. Dirceu, however, was arrested again earlier this year, accused of being involved in the Lava Jato (Carwash) scandal.