By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s Supreme Court, the STF, has sentenced ex-Chief of Staff José Dirceu to ten years, ten months in prison for corruption crimes relating to the mensalão scandal that has rocked Brazilian politics. Dirceu must also pay a fine of R$676,000 (US$330,000) and will serve his sentence – at least for now – in a closed prison, rather than in a semi-open prison or under house arrest.

José Dirceu (right) with ex-President Lula in 2005, the year the scandal first surfaced, Brazil News
José Dirceu (right) with ex-President Lula in 2005, the year the scandal first surfaced, photo by José Cruz/ABr.

The top government aide, and ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s right-hand man, had been widely suspected of masterminding the scheme through which deputies’ votes were allegedly bought to help the ruling party – Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) – for at least two years between 2003-2005.

Judge and STF president-elect Joaquim Barbosa said: “[Dirceu] held one of the Republic’s most important offices. He defiled the role and made key decisions for the success of criminal business.”

Former PT Treasurer Delúbio Soares was sentenced to a total of eight years, eleven months in prison and a fine of R$325,000, and former PT President José Genoino was sentenced to six years, eleven months in a minimum-security prison and a R$468,000 fine – both also for bribery and for forming the core group.

But the biggest sentence has already been handed out: businessman Marcos Valério, condemned for forming the quadrilha (gang), whose sentence totals forty years, two months and ten days, as well as a R$2.72 million (US$1.33 million) fine. Valério has since attempted to implicated ex-President Lula in the scandal – but the latter insists he knew nothing of the scheme’s existence.

In the murkiest chapter in the history of recent Brazilian politics twenty-five people have been convicted on charges related to the case, including members of the ruling Workers’ Party, allied parties and business figures. Yet despite the PT’s proximity to the events, the party appears to have survived unscathed, even winning the prized position of São Paulo mayor in the country’s recent municipal elections.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.


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