Lula, indicted? Brazil’s popular former president has been indicted in the same broad-ranging corruption case that has been slowly engulfing the administration of his successor. Here, El Pais’s Talita Bedinelli studies the strange and occasionally strained wording of the document in which prosecutors demanded that Lula be not only indicted but-very unusual for Brazil-arrested immediately. A request still being studied by judges:
“Lula is no overman; he is not above the law. He inflamed the country’s population when he called a press conference to rebuke the fact that he was legally forced to testify in the investigation of one of Brazil’s biggest corruption scandals, called Operação Lava-Jato (Operation Car Wash). He pulled strings to escape investigation when he requested an injunction to prevent him from testifying last February – and he celebrated after a judge granted it to him. He has mocked the very institutions that are investigating him, and by doing so he might influence the common people to do the same. Besides that, as a former president he has easy access to means and people that could help him flee the country.”
The arguments used by public prosecutors Cassio Conserino, José Carlos Blat and Fernando Henrique Araújo when they requested that former president Lula be taken in to custody are now being analyzed under the watchful eye of the public. If on one hand legal scholars say the arguments presented are not strong enough, the general public is having fun mocking the mistakes and malapropisms employed in the injunction request. Among them there is a quote that states that “Marx and Hegel” would be ashamed of the conduct of the former metalworker-turned-president. The prosecutors probably intended to make an ironic reference to Marx and Engels, the authors of the Communist Manifesto. On the night the injunction was requested “Marx and Engels” became one of Twitter’s trending topics.
Here we have quoted the main arguments in the requested issued by the prosecutors:
The principle of equality before the law
‘Never yet has there been an overman. Naked I saw both the greatest and the smallest man. They are still all-too-similar to each other. Verily even the greatest I found all-too-human.’
This is a fundamental quote from the work of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzche [sic], on the same level.
An inflamed population
Because of his status as the country’s former highest authority, the defendant Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva should never have incited the population to oppose the criminal investigations being conducted by the Police and the Prosecutor’s Office, or against decisions issued by Brazil’s justice system. However, that is what the defendant did: he used his political influence when he called a press conference after he was forcibly brought in to testify by Operation Car Wash.
There are sufficient reasons to believe that the defendant will make use of his violent support network in order to disrupt the natural course of the legal procedure that begins with this request. There is an evident probability of threats to victims and witnesses and to the discovery of new evidence in this case, which will hinder legal procedure.
Maneuvers to avoid investigation
[Lula] has benefited from the support of his political allies, such as Congressman Luiz Paulo Texeira Ferreira, who initially filed a request against one of the prosecutors conducting this investigation with the intent of hindering it, though he wasn’t successful. Later on, when notified by the prosecutors that he was to testify at the Barra Funda Public Prosecutor’s Office on February 17th 2016, the defendant once more obtained, through the support of said congressman, on February 16th 2016, the issue of a precautionary measure to suspend the investigation.
The defendant publicly celebrated, with press coverage, as if he was “managing to escape the investigation”, giving to the less educated population yet another demonstration of his political might and showing them “how to avoid testifying in a criminal investigation”. The precautionary measure was celebrated by the former president, as we can see from a photo published on the newspaper [quotes from the prosecutors].
We wish to disclose that the defendant has orchestrated a true attack on the institutions of the Justice system, a fact that can be observed on a video shot by Congresswoman Jandira Feghali, which can be found on the World Wide Web: “A video shot by Congresswoman Jandira Feghali (from Brazil’s Communist Party – PCdoB) in support of Lula has gone wrong, and all because right at the beginning, one can hear very clearly Lula saying that “they can shove this indictment up their asses” [the quotes were used by the prosecutors because that is an excerpt from an article by Brazilian newspaper Extra].
Marx and ‘Hegel’
The current behavior of the defendant Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who once drove the country to tears when he became President of the Republic in 2003 (he was the “first metalworker” to ever do so in an honorable and democratic way), would bring shame on Marx and Hegel [quotes by the prosecutors].
When he exposed in the press conference his clear intentions of attacking the institutions of the Justice system, which can be heard by the disrespectful words used by him on the video, he showed to the common citizen that he can feel the same and has the right to take the same actions. After all, if one reads the message in a simplistic manner, it is valid to say that the Constitution guarantees equality for all, and therefore, everyone has the same right to express themselves in an aggressive manner against the institutions of the Justice System, like the former president has done.
A crime that has shocked public opinion
The fact that the defendant is a former president and first-time offender is a condition that would normally undermine a request for pre-trial detention. [But legal scholar Guilherme de Souza] Nucci states that: “At times, a first-time offender, without a criminal record, can face a pre-trial detention for having committed a felony which has shocked public opinion (like meticulously planning to kill your parents, for example). Therefore, despite not presenting immediate danger (because the offender hasn’t committed crimes before, and is unlikely to commit them again), the offense generated a feeling of revulsion in the population because it goes against the very basic ethical rules of coexistence.”
Above the law
It is necessary to issue a felony warrant, because it has been demonstrated that the defendant uses his condition as a former president so he can be “above the law”. That is why he wishes “to be invited” to testify, or “to choose” who will investigate him, or if his relatives will or will not be investigated [quotes by the prosecutors]
Civil society, the free press and public institutions have all witnessed in shock as the current President of the Republic canceled all of her presidential appointments so that she could publicly defend a person who currently does not occupy an office in the government, but shares with her an affiliation to the same political party.
If there is evidence that the defendant has committed the crimes he is being accused of, a request for a pre-trial detention must be issued, because, as a former President of the Republic, he could easily use his influence to escape the country.
Talita Bedinelli Translated from Portuguese by International Boulevard.
15 Mar 2016