The defense of the ‘villains’ of the ‘Lava Jato case’ | International

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A demonstration in favor of the 'Lava Jato' cause on Copacabana beach, in Rio de Janeiro.Tomaz Silva / Agência Brasil

While Brazil was dazzled in 2014 with a police investigation in the state-owned Petrobras that occupied the newspapers and television news every day, a group of criminal lawyers watched in astonishment every step that this operation took. The case Lava Jato, and the actions of the federal police who knocked on the door of the powerful to render an account of their crimes before the Justice hypnotized the Brazilians. He Lava Jato case it was on everyone's lips. The idea of ​​putting corrupt rich people in jail was a joy for a country that, since its foundation, has not had any kind of ethics with public goods.

In this fight of good against evil, it fell to these lawyers to defend the villains of history. Executives and politicians who betrayed and were betrayed for, supposedly, having moved millions under the thumb. He Lava Jato case It was led by a group of young and intrepid prosecutors and a judge ready to satisfy the popular desire. Sergio Moro aroused fury for more justice in the country. The then judge became a book before even showing results. Later he became the subject of a Netflix series, he won awards, his image occupied billboards, he was honored at the Olinda Carnival and on Avenida Paulista.

The group of lawyers was cornered in 2014. The operation brought incredible elements to the media. Listening, leaked audios, stories of lovers, betrayals between former allies. One of the most notable events was the leak, in May 2016, of a recording of Sergio Machado, former president of Transpetro, a Petrobras subsidiary, in which he spoke with the former minister of Dilma Rousseff, Romero Jucá. In that conversation the impeachment of Rousseff and the creation of “a great national agreement”, in the words of Machado, “with the Supreme Court and everything”, as Jucá affirmed, to stop the Lava Jato, which had hitherto massacred the Workers' Party. Brazil learned the details of that conversation through the microphone that Machado carried. He wanted to get out of jail, and to do this, he had to obtain compromising information from his former colleagues for the prosecutors with whom he was negotiating a sentence reduction.

An operation without detractors

This was just one episode of the more than 70 operations of the Lava Jato In its six years of existence, we only speak of Brazil (mega-research has extended its arms to other Latin American countries, putting the political class in all the places it has passed against the wall). In that ecstasy, defending executives and politicians deemed corrupt had little to do. They undoubtedly wanted to prevent the revolution that was causing the case Lava Jato. Opinion on the operation was unanimous, there was no one who could go against it.

In Brazil 2020, things are very different. The group of lawyers that today is called Prerogatives has become strong and now they are the ones who corner the operation responsible for more than 500 accusations and 253 convictions at least until March, when the Lava Jato turned six years old. Their debates, often broadcast live, appeal to the legal community, including Supreme Court justices such as Gilmar Mendes and Antonio Dias Toffoli, and the Attorney General of the Republic, Augusto Aras. The latter caused quite a stir by questioning the operation in late July, during a live broadcast. Aras criticized an alleged "box of secrets" from prosecutors with data on more than 38,000 people. At that time, Prerogatives managed to publicly unite the left and the right against the operation.

For Prerogatives, which currently has almost 1,000 lawyers, the Lava Jato case created an authoritarian breeding ground that normalized the abuses, which multiplied under the current government. “There was a systematic attack on the Law and on the higher courts that dared to disagree with this jurisdiction,” says lawyer Fabio Tofic. "The embryo of an aggression against the system itself began to develop, an attack on the institutions, in this case, on the Judiciary itself," he adds.

The former judge and now also former Minister of Justice Sergio Moro would have been a key piece of the board, collaborating with democratic setbacks and weakening legal consensus to prioritize the political death of the left. An inexorable fact plays in favor of this narrative. The same robed who tried important cases, especially the case in which former President Lula da Silva was convicted, went to work for the Government of Jair Bolsonaro, after an episode that even left some members of the case Lava Jato. On the eve of the presidential elections, the then judge Moro made public the statement of former minister Antonio Palocci, in which he made a series of accusations about alleged illegal commissions that several companies had paid to the Workers' Party.

Even with anti-PT sentiment running loose in Brazil, politicians felt that the statement would hurt the campaign of former Lula party candidate Fernando Haddad. The rest of the story is known. Palocci was released from prison in November 2018 after paying a millionaire fine and Moro assumed the position of Minister of Justice on January 1 of the following year.

Six months later, the middle The Intercept Brazil would publish the Vaza Jato, a series of conversations leaked on the Telegram messaging application about the actions, decisions and positions of the prosecutors of the Operation Lava Jato. The reports, carried out in collaboration with EL PAÍS, would confirm many of the criticisms that the lawyers had made since 2014, including undue attacks on the Supreme Court. They also demonstrated the proximity of the judge and the prosecutors, a capital sin in the Law. And it was learned that the prosecutors themselves did not attest to what Palocci stated in his statement, which continues to cause people to talk. This week, the Federal Police has declared that there is no evidence that proves the existence of a supposed millionaire account of the party administered by the BTG bank.

Although the Palocci prosecution had not been responsible for Lula's arrest in April 2018, it contributed to the party's reputation as a den of thieves. On the other hand, the conclusion of the Federal Police raises the temperature of a trial in the Supreme Court: that of Moro's alleged impartiality in his trials, requested by the defense of former President Lula. It is taken by the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court and the sentence is still pending, because two magistrates are in favor of the defense thesis and another two, against. Dean Celso de Mello, who is on leave, must give the casting vote. The Prerogatives group has added fuel to the stake with the publication of O livro das suspeições (The book of suspicions), where he analyzes the decisions of the former judge and former minister.

The lawyers reinforce their arguments about the excesses of the Lava Jato. "What distinguishes barbarism from the rule of law is that people are not punished in any way," says lawyer Alberto Toron, who is handling the case of the social democratic deputy Aécio Neves and defended the former president of the Bank of Brazil, Aldemir Bendine. . The State, he affirms, must follow the rituals of the process, the rules of the Constitution that define the punitive power of public agents. “When this is broken, there is violence, a breaking of the rite that should be followed; We call this, in a very general way, a break in the legal process, a conquest of civilization since 1215 ”, adds Toron.

But what can these lawyers claim if the case Lava Jato played an important role in Brazil, even recovered R $ 4,000 million embezzled from companies, of which 3,000 were diverted from Petrobras? "At no time do we minimize the seriousness of the events that the operation identified," says Juliano Breda, who defended the construction companies Andrade Gutiérrez and OEA and four ministers of the PT governments. “It is absolutely necessary to establish as a premise in any debate on the excesses and abuses of the Lava Jato that there is no doubt about the seriousness of the acts of corruption that were identified ”, he adds.

Dora Cavalcanti, who defended businessman Marcelo Odebrecht, says that pushing the limits with members of the elite does not improve the lives of the most vulnerable. “It is obvious that trying to discuss criminal policy by looking at the part of the population that was affected by Lava Jato it doesn't make any sense, ”says Cavalcanti. Arresting the rich, however, says Cavalcanti, does not mean a less violent system for those who cannot afford expensive lawyers. "This is totally illusory, we must strengthen the right to defense, the set of guarantees to benefit the entire population," he warns. Founder of the Institute for the Defense of the Right to Defense (IDDD), the lawyer welcomes this moment in which the higher courts "are finally reexamining some cases" to learn from the mistakes of the past.

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