Former judge argues messages leaked by investigative journalists are illegal and should not be taken into account.
Brazil's Justice and Public Security Minister Sergio Moro testified Wednesday in front of the Senate in Brasilia to try to discredit allegations of illegal interference in the case against ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as revealed by The Intercept.
"Obviously I have nothing to hide. The idea was to come here to clarify about sensationalism being created about this news," Moro said in court Wednesday morning. Moro did not categorically deny the authenticity of the information leaked to The Intercept, but argued it could have been altered.
On June 9, The Intercept disclosed private telegram conversations between Judge Moro and Deltan Dallagnol, the main state prosecutor of the Car Wash corruption scandal, showing that the two colluded to convict Lula on bribery charges. Moro later had the Workers' Party leader thrown in jail without due process in April 2018.
The evidence against Moro, released in a three-part series by The Intercept, showed Moro went to great lengths to imprison Lula and prevent him from running in the 2018 presidential elections.
“Over the course of more than two years, Moro suggested to the prosecutor that his team change the sequence of who they would investigate; insisted on less downtime between raids; gave strategic advice and informal tips; provided the prosecutors with advance knowledge of his decisions; offered constructive criticism of prosecutorial filings; and even scolded Dallagnol ... as if the prosecutor worked for the judge,” the report said, denouncing Moro who had presided over the Lula's case and the far-reaching Car Wash corruption case.
Protected by Sergio Moro, ex-president Fernando Henrique Cardoso asked for money from Marcelo Odebrecht, which paid monthly installments totaling R$ 975,000, between 2011 and 2012. But Lula is in jail. Analysis of the latest #vazajato leaks @brasil247.https://t.co/T6QlFFVTvU— Michael Fox (@mfox_us) June 19, 2019
During the Senate's Constitution and Justice Commission hearing, Minister Moro said that even if the telegram messages were true, they didn't indicate he had violated any laws.
"They try to create a situation of scandal, which is nonexistent in the end," declared the Justice Minister, who was appointed to the newly-created, high-power position by President Jair Bolsonaro when he entered office in January.
Moro tried to convince senators the "criminal invasion" of his and other authorities' cell phones in order to end the Car Wash investigation and weaken Brazilian institutions is the currently most important thing.
According to him, the investigative journalists' information should not be taken into account because it comes from an "organized criminal group" that might involve foreign agents.
Moro made similiar claims during Tuesday press conference when PT Senator Humberto Costa told him that he was not a victim of media sensationalism and asked him to resign because "you stripped the vote from millions of Brazilians."
The PT lawmaker said the judicial minister, while presiding over Lula's case in 2018, "changed prosecutors, directed operations, selected who should be persecuted, and broke laws and ethics codes."