Miscarriage of Justice: Ex-President Lula’s Imprisonment in Brazil

It’s the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. Protests in support of former President Lula
da Silva were organized in cities around the world and in all the major cities in Brazil
last Wednesday. Demonstrators demanded his immediate release,
saying that his prosecution and conviction were without evidence and legal standing and
that they were highly politicized and unfair. Ex-President Lula submitted himself to authorities
and was imprisoned last Saturday just after he lost a Supreme Court ruling on whether
he could continue to appeal his case in freedom, as the Constitution guarantees. Lula now begins a 12-year prison sentence
for convictions of money laundering and corruption. His lawyers continue the appeals process and
currently have two habeas corpus motions pending in two different courts. Lula is still the Worker’s Party candidate
for the October 2018 presidential election. He has long been the frontrunner in the race
for the presidency. Joining me now to analyze Lula’s imprisonment
is Mark Weisbrot. Mark is president of Just Foreign Policy,
and is a co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. And he’s the author of “Failed: What Experts
Got Wrong About the Global Economy.” He joins us from Washington. Thanks for joining us, Mark. Thank you for inviting me, Sharmini. Mark, the biggest gripe that the protesters
have is that Lula was convicted without much evidence or upholding basic principles of
the law, as Geoffrey Robertson who is the Queen’s Counsel and a lawyer appointed to
the UN Human Rights Council. Now, Brazil has a court system. Sergio Moro is considered a judge, according
to many as a respectable judge, been invited to Harvard, has been invited to various places
of judicial recognition. Is considered a almost a crusader when it
comes to fighting corruption. Now, observers of Lula’s conviction has has
a different opinion, like Geoffrey Robertson. So tell us a little bit about why the protesters
think the case has no merits and that it was politicized. Was it? And what do you make of this case? Well, the judge, Judge Moro, who is unfortunately
under Brazilian legal system also the prosecutor in the case, had to prove and to show that
Lula actually accepted a gift from this construction company called OAS, and also that it was in
return for something that he did for them. And he didn’t really show either of those
two things in this. You can see the 200 page sentencing document
is on the web in both Portuguese and English. I want to read just one little part of it,
Section 302, which shows why it’s complicated. It’s not really that complicated factually,
but how he makes it complicated and fudges the issue, the crucial issue. He says: “This is the crucial matter in this
proceeding, because if it is established that the apartment was actually offered to the
former president by the OAS group and not paid for its corresponding price, not even
for renovations, there will be evidence of its granting by the O AS group of a substantial
patrimonial benefit.” ‘So the two key words are ‘offered’ and ‘granting.’ So he confuses whether the company offered
this to Lula and whether it was actually granted, that is, Lula accepted it. And he takes in this, in this sentencing document
and his decision, the idea that if they offered it and if they did renovations on the apartment,
then that’s considered a bribe even if Lula never took it. And of course, Lula never did take it. He never he visited it once, and he testified
that he didn’t want it and he did not, he had never had title, he never had ownership,
he never stayed there. He never used it. So where is the bribe itself? That’s where, again, the judge fudges this
issue throughout the opinion, presenting all kinds of evidence. And then, of course, for the idea that it
was accepted, he relies on one witness. And there were other witnesses who contradicted
this witness. But this witness is someone who was convicted
of corruption, and he originally told a similar story as Lula. According to the press reports in Folia de
Sao Paulo, he was, his plea bargaining was cut off until he gave the story that the court
wanted. And then his sentence was reduced from something
like sixteen to two years. That is the evidence. There’s no material evidence to back him up. So this is really not enough to convict someone,
again, when there were conflicting witnesses who were more believable than somebody whose,
you know, future in or out of prison was dependent on him saying what the judge wanted to hear. So a case of a plea bargaining and where they
would give up Lula in exchange for something in the bargaining. Yeah, I mean, his testimony, again, his, his
ability to escape a very long prison sentence was dependent. Now, of course, that does happen all the time. But you would expect there to be some material
evidence to back up his claims, and that’s what they didn’t have. Right. Now, many observers of Lula’s conviction have
said that the prosecuting Judge Sergio Moro is prejudiced against Lula. What else in this case indicates that prosecution,
and perhaps the prosecution of Lula, is politicized, and that Moro has some other motive behind
all of this? Well, there’s much in the opinion that displays
his animus. But it was also publicly on display when he,
for example, ordered the police to come and arrest Lula at his house, take him away for
questioning, when he had always agreed voluntarily to questioning, and made a media spectacle
out of that. He also had to apologize to the Supreme Court
for the release to the public and the media of wiretapped conversations between Lula and
his attorney, and Lula and his family, and Lula and Dilma, who was still president at
the time. So there were so many things that he did that
showed it was political. And also, then, what happened since July. I mean, he was convicted in July at the trial
level. And you know, the Constitution says that the
person cannot be held as guilty until their appeals are exhausted. And so, obviously the Supreme Court just recently
ruled , and we discussed this, by a 6-5 margin, that despite what the Constitution said Lula
could be imprisoned. And they did it all so fast. You know, this is eight months. I mean, the whole idea of interpreting the
Constitution in this way which seems to go against what it literally says, is that you
don’t want people being out on bail for appeals for years and decades. This is just eight months. Everything was done, everything was hastened,
the whole process was sped up so quickly and so much because it was obviously intended
to prevent him from running for president in October where he had a sizable, and still
has, a sizable lead, and would be expected to win. Also, judging from the mainstream outlets
, Mark, such as a New York Times on Thursday, and the Foreign Policy magazine, who are all
cheering on Lula’s imprisonment, saying it represents a blow against corruption. I mean these are hardly institutions that,
that, you know, fight corruption. In other cases like here in the U.S. and multiple
other places around the world. But here they are particularly focused on
fighting corruption when it comes to Brazil and the carwash investigations and so forth. So tell us the the important implications
this corruption investigations have in terms of this corrupt class of politicians. And then of course, you know, the people who
are fond of Lula and who are on the streets, and many of them from around the world because
of Lula’s campaign against hunger, he’s a world renowned figure when it comes to that. That seems to be a real class dynamic here
when it comes to defending and then of course prosecuting Lula. What do you make of that? Well, yeah, the whole thing is is political
from top to bottom in so many ways. More than I could describe here. And as you mentioned, there’s obviously a
class dimension because that’s who will be represented. And of course, you know, he had major achievements. He left office with 80 percent, 87 percent
approval because poverty had been reduced by 55 percent, and extreme poverty by 65 percent,
and the minimum wage rose by 76 percent in real terms by 2014 when they impeached Dilma. Everything about this, so there was a huge
and still is a huge class divide. The Worker’s Party was never really accepted
by the traditional elite. And so they seized the opportunity of the
recession first to impeach Dilma, without actually a crime, and then to convict Lula
with an alleged crime, which was actually more of an alleged thought crime. And, and then they, you know, to prevent him
from running. And you know, the U.S. role in this is also
very political. It’s hard to imagine the Department of Justice
playing such a large role in the investigation if the result were not to move power away
from the Workers Party, who they never, the U.S. government never wanted and imposed in
many ways. You know, if that weren’t the actual intended
result of the whole thing. And then that’s not to say there wasn’t corruption
across the border, corruption in the Worker’s Party. But this was a case where the whole thing
was oriented towards and structured towards its intended result, which is to decapitate
the Worker’s Party and to remove them from, from power. And that’s what it’s doing, although it’s
by no means over yet. Mark, when you look at the mainstream newspapers
and how they’re covering this case of Lula, whether it’s a Washington Post or The New
York Times, there’s a very clear bent in terms of the importance of dealing with corruption,
and the prosecution, and almost cheerleading this illegitimate legal process. What do you make of this kind of coverage? Yeah. This is a case, and this is why I’m bothering
to go through some of the details, where the role of the media is enormous. It’s really deciding, it’s really establishing
the entire narrative, because you can read, I’ve read hundreds of articles in the media,
international English language media. And the Brazilian press is even worse, in
many ways. But in the international media you can’t find
any articles that really discuss the evidence. And why shouldn’t they? Was it really such an open and shut case that
they don’t even have to look at it? It’s quite the opposite. There’s hardly any, there’s no evidence at
all except for, as I mentioned, this one plea-bargained convict that Lula committed a crime. And yet nobody wants to talk about that. They’re so interested in framing this as the
struggle against corruption and finishing off their writing his obituary every day. That’s where the media really plays such a
central role and could potentially change the history of Brazil. All right, Mark. Thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you. And thank you for joining us here on the Real
News Network.

13 Replies to “Miscarriage of Justice: Ex-President Lula’s Imprisonment in Brazil”

  1. He was convicted for corruption, money Laundring, obstruction of Justice, among many other crimes. Most Brazilian want the right-wing candidate JAIR BOLSONARO for presidency! There is no doubt, in fact, a lot of proof, that there is a huge scheme envolving the whole government, entirely left-wing, with corruption and money laundring in a scale never seen before. We can say the 12 year sentence is a joke for someone that stole billions of dollars from the Brazilian people!! He should get life in prison!!

  2. Even there are protests there were legal standings. How is it that we respect other people's constitution and s4! t on our own! I also would wanat even my father to go to jail if he were judged as guilty! There was enough evidence and you can twist it to make as if we did not have due process but we do! And let me tell you, I hope the other actions he is being processed by may make him and other politicians like him go to jail… Brazil is doomed by its own people who condone corruption but wouldn't think twice in voting him again to presidency. 12.5 years is too little for this henchman that stole from everyone and left a no-brained disciple in his place that ruined the country… I hope Dilma goes down the drain also! Bolsonaro is a misogynistic, narrow minded, nazi he already has a place in hell! We Brazilian people are ready for the apocalyptic voting this year, I can tell you now, we are doomed!

  3. 1 Lula is criminal and there are a lot of evidences for his crimes. 2 Lula also is going to be guilty on another 6 legal proceedings on the way 3 Dilma impeachment was totally on the law and she committed crimes 4 for evidences there are a lot testimony and Leo Pinheiro the owner of OAS and a friend of Lula already said that the apartment was for him even Lula hours before surrendering himself to the police was drunk and gave a speech and said that the apartment was his… 5 international correspondents need to study more, brazil e not for amateurs

  4. It's clearly a political prision. Lawfare is the modern strategy to overthrow a government. There are huge economic interests behind all that persecution. The testimony of an important witness called Rodrigo Tacla Duran reveled also a fraudulent judicial scam to deal court decisions against Lula and to let free a pack of corrupt big-cheeses from political opponent parties. Mr. Tacla Duran is in Spain now. Why don't you invite him for an interview? Lula also criticised the media and said his only crime was putting โ€œthe poor and black people in college.โ€ That's why there is this increasing and noisy Free Lula outcry all around the world now.



  5. He is a disgusting human being and need to rotten in jail. Just like Dilma and Temmer! Their Time is also coming!
    Lula livre is a joke ! This news is a joke.
    There is evidence just go read๐Ÿ™„

  6. Freedom for Lula!
    Liberdad para Lula!
    Frehei fรผr Lula!
    Libertรฉ pour Lula!
    Lula Libero!
    Liberdade para Lula!

  7. even if lula is guilty of this deal, compared to what the politicians in power now are criminally responsible for, lula's alledged crime is peanuts. it's all political chess. The few very old portuguese and italian families that own the country couldn't care less about the people of Brasil, research for yourself the interest rates in Brasil, ex: credit cards =10% A MONTH.
    if you think the 1% in north america is bad then in brasil it's 0.001%. nobody wants a govt. that works for the people.

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