Brazil is living in political turmoil with a new scandal rising. On Nov. 1, far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro appointed Judge Sergio Moro as his justice minister. This Saturday marks the 218th day since Judge Moro, who was overseeing the so-called "Operation Car Wash," imprisoned former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, on trumped-up corruption charges with no material evidence.
Lula was president for two terms (2003-2010), during which 50 million Brazilians were lifted out of poverty. With that going for him, he was the leading candidate for the 2018 presidential elections. Even while in prison, all the polls predicted victory for him, if he hadn't have been wrongfully prohibited from running.
His removal from the presidential election was based on a law called "ficha limpa" (clean tab) in which, candidates are required to have a clean criminal record.This opened the door for right-wing extremist Jair Bolsonaro to win the presidency. Lula was accused of allegedly receiving an apartment, but no proof of him owning it was given during the trial. The whole trial was surrounded by a dark halo. Lula's defense and supporters alleged, during the whole process, that the trial was a form of political persecution.
Brazilian Judge Humberto Martins has ordered Sergio Moro to offer a formal statement regarding his intentions as possible future Minister of Justice and Public Security. teleSUR exclusively interviewed Valeska Martins, from Lula's defense team, to ask what the repercussions of last week appointment of Sergio Moro as Bolsonaro's Justice Minister could be for Lula's case.
Jair Bolsonaro recently offered the position of Justice Minister to Sergio Moro, the judge who oversaw Operation Car Wash. How will this affect Lula's case?
Valeska Martins: It is a confirmation of what we said to the UN in 2016: this trial was conducted by a judge for political motives.
Now, with this flagrant politicization — a confession that a political entity has been handling the case — we hope that the Supreme Court throws it out and frees President Lula, not only in accordance with national law, but of international law as well. This will also restore the image of Operation Car Wash and the fight against corruption. Because the truth is that if you allow people to act politically under the cloak of the judiciary, the whole judiciary, the population, and democracy lose.
Can you explain, then, about the Habeas Corpus which you just filed?
Valeska Martins: We filed a motion of habeas corpus with the Supreme Court so that Lula can be released, and so that the court's second group can dismiss the case of the triplex apartment and the other two charges which were made by Judge Sergio Moro.
How do you think the Supreme Court will rule on this and what is the time frame?
Valeska Martins: We understand that any independent and impartial court would recognize the validity of our arguments. In other words, Moro's bias is so blatant that it cannot pass unnoticed. It does not only taint Operation Car Wash, it taints the entire judiciary. So we are very hopeful that this will now be recognized by the Federal Supreme Court.
Are there any international actions that could help free Lula from his condition as a political prisoner?
Valeska Martins: We have a case under review by the U.N. Human Rights Committee in which we have been arguing since 2016, that the motivation behind this entire operation is not the fight against corruption but a political battle to remove a political enemy from the national elections. And now this has been confirmed so we hope that in May when this case is judged on its merits, that the U.N. Human Rights Committee will rule to completely overturn the ruling on the triplex. Regarding the Brazilian Supreme Court, we hope that it will enter into the agenda of the next session and be ruled on by the president of the Supreme Court's second session, and we are anxiously waiting for this because ex-President Lula should not have to stay one more day unjustly incarcerated — this issue cries for justice.