Brazil’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that former judge Sergio Moro was biased in the way he oversaw former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s corruption trial, which justifies the left-wing leader who has long claimed political persecution.
The decision further obscures Moro’s reputation and the sweeping corruption investigation in Car Wash that he led for several years. He convicted hundreds of business and political leaders who previously believed he enjoyed impunity and turned into one of Brazil’s most famous public figures. Some hailed him as a hero while others accused him of being a zealot.
“In this case, what is being discussed is something that is crucial for me: everyone has the right to a fair trial, a proper legal process and the impartiality of the judge,” said Judge Carmen Lucia, who ruled unanimously.
Leaked messages published by The Intercept Brasil 2019 clearly showed cooperation between prosecutors from Moro and Car Wash during the process that eventually imprisoned da Silva for corruption and money laundering. His conviction on appeal excluded him from the 2018 presidential election, in accordance with the rules of Brazil’s Clean Slate law, and allowed lawmaker Jair Bolsonaro to cross to victory. Moro quickly became Bolsonaro’s Minister of Justice.
Tuesday’s ruling follows a separate decision by Justice Edson Fachin on March 8 to annul Da Silva’s two convictions, on the grounds that he was prosecuted in a court without jurisdiction, and ruled that he could be tried again in a federal court in the capital Brasilia.
Da Silva’s lawyers, Cristiano Zanin Martins and Valeska Martins, said in a statement that the decision was “historic and revitalizing.”
“We proved that Moro never acted as a judge but as a personal and political opponent of former President Lula,” they said. Da Silva is commonly known as Lula in Brazil. “We were hit by all sorts of illegal car washes, some of which are described in the verdict that acknowledged the prejudices of prejudice, such as illegal surveillance of our phones so that members of the investigation could follow the defense strategy in real time. ”
While the decision earlier this month cleared the way for da Silva to face Bolsonaro in the 2022 election, it was also interpreted by legal experts as a way to counter a decision on allegations of Moro’s bias and thus preserve the convictions and credibility of car wash. Another justice required a vote on the ongoing issue regardless.
With their 3-2 decision on Tuesday, the judges banned evidence collected in the Car Wash probe about da Silva’s alleged ownership of a triplex in the beach town of Guaruja to be used in possible trials. The judges did not decide whether evidence gathered earlier could be used when he tried again da Silva’s second conviction or in his other two unsolved criminal cases.
Michael Mohallem, coordinator of the Getulio Vargas Foundation’s Justice Center, said the verdict would return corruption proceedings against da Silva to first place and strengthen his candidacy in 2022. But it also gives a glimmer of hope to others who have been imprisoned.
“Lula will be able to say that he was persecuted by a judge who wanted to sentence him. It is very valuable for the political campaign, “added Mohallem. “The fear is that many prisoners will file cases for the annulment of their sentences. The verdict opens that discussion. ”