By Maria Lopez Conde, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Federal deputy José Genoino was discharged from the Institute of the Heart in the Federal District of Brasília on Sunday, November 24th and is now under house arrest, four days after he fell ill at the Papuda Penitentiary Complex. The president of Brazil’s Supreme Court (STF), Joaquim Barbosa, is now deliberating on whether Genoino should carry out the rest of his mensalão conviction under house arrest, or return to prison.
“I partly grant the request of the convict José Genoino Neto to temporarily allow him to remain at home or receive medical treatment at the hospital until there is a conclusive statement from the medical board” on the politician’s health, Barbosa wrote in an order.
Yet late on Tuesday, November 26th, a medical report commissioned by the STF’s president affirmed that house arrest is “not indispensable” for the medical treatment of the former leader of the Workers’ Party (PT), Genoino.
The cardiologists who examined the politician over the weekend concluded that Genoino’s heart disease “is not characterized as severe,” which allows him to be treated in the prison system. The doctors’ report will help Barbosa determine if Genoino should return to Papuda Penitentiary.
Genoino was allowed to remain in house arrest at his daughter’s home in the city of Brasília while the STF decides on whether he will serve out the rest of his four year and eight month semi-open prison sentence for corruption at home, prison or the hospital. The convicted politician has filed an appeal against his criminal conspiracy charges, which, if rejected, could add over two years to his sentence, as well as a hefty R$468,000 fine.
While under house arrest the former PT president, who resigned in the wake of the scandal over a vote-buying scheme in Congress, dubbed by Brazilian media as the mensalão, will not be allowed to speak to the press, drink alcohol, handle weapons or leave his daughter’s house. He will only be allowed to travel to the hospital.
According to a statement released by the Institute of the Heart, Genoino was released after four days because his health “presented an improvement in arterial pressure and blood coagulation parameters.” In July, the federal deputy was taken to a São Paulo hospital after experiencing chest pains, later attributed to an aortic dissection, underwent heart surgery and is currently on blood thinners.
Genoino is said to be “confident” that he will secure house arrest for the rest of his sentence. This information came by way of federal deputy Renato Simões, who replaced Genoino in the legislative body, and visited Genoino at the hospital last week.
Several politicians, including President Dilma Rousseff, have spoken out in support of house arrest for Genoino, amid accusations that the high-profile convicts are receiving a host of benefits and special treatment behind bars.
Rousseff had expressed concern over the São Paulo federal deputy’s health last week in a meeting with Senate leaders, describing Genoino’s situation as “critical” and criticized the politician’s lawyer for being “soft” and not guaranteeing his client house arrest even with a report that confirmed Genoino’s fragile health. “I expressed my worry to him on a strictly personal basis,” Rousseff explained to a Campinas, São Paulo radio station when questioned about her earlier remarks.
“I spoke out on the health of deputy Genoino. First, because I know of his health conditions and I know he takes anticoagulants and at the same time, I have a personal relationship with his family,” Rousseff told the station on November 20th. “I was jailed with Genoino’s wife during the military dictatorship,” she added.
PT senator Eduardo Suplicy, who was part of a Workers’ Party delegation that visited the jailed mensaleiros on November 19th, has said that there was an “inadequate procedure on behalf of the president of the STF in forcing (Genoino) to go through everything he had to go through.”
Genoino had been imprisoned in a single cell since November 16th, alongside high-profile convicts of the mensalão trial, Delúbio Soares, former treasurer of the PT, and José Dirceu, former president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva’s chief of staff and the mastermind behind the corrupt vote-buying scheme that unfolded from 2003 to 2005.
The landmark trial marked one of the first times that high-ranking party officers and politicians served prison sentences for corruption in Brazil.