Brazil’s ex-president appeals to UN over abuses of power in corruption case

  • theguardian 26.feb.2017
  • Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva files a petition with the human rights committee
  • Lawyers outline alleged violations by judge Sergio Moro

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has filed a petition with the UN human rights committee outlining alleged abuses of power in the corruption case he is embroiled in.

At a press conference in London, his Brazilian and British lawyers said they had just returned from the United Nations in Geneva where they had lodged the petition.

The dossier outlined alleged violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and alleged abuses of power by judge Sergio Moro.

Moro heads the investigation into a vast scam centered on state oil company Petrobras in which contractors paid bribes to receive inflated contracts, and stolen money was funneled to politicians and political parties.

The investigation is known as Operation Car Wash.

Lula faces a corruption case related to the Petrobras scandal and is being investigated for an allegedly much wider role in the scheme.

“Lula is bringing his case at the UN because he cannot get justice in Brazil under its inquisitorial system,” said high-profile British human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson.

“The same judge who is invading his privacy in this case can have him arrested at any moment and will then become his trial judge, deciding on his guilt or innocence without a jury.

“This is a serious fault in the inquisitorial system as it operates in Brazil.”

The petition invites the committee to find that the Brazilian justice system should be changed so that a judge investigating a case should not also be the trial judge.

The petition alleges that Lula’s right to privacy, freedom from arbitrary arrest and right to be presumed innocent until found guilty has been violated.

Lawyers for the 70-year-old Workers’ party founder said the leftist icon’s phone and those of his family and lawyers had been tapped, with transcripts and audio then leaked to Brazilian media – some of which, they claimed, was illegally obtained outside the remit of a warrant.

Robertson claimed the probe amounted to a “gross violation of the most fundamental right to a fair trial”.

“There’s no evidence that he took backhanders or kickbacks in the period when he was president,” he added.

Dozens of top executives and politicians at both the Workers’ party and its rivals have been charged or investigated over involvement in the scheme, which flourished for much of Lula’s 2003-2010 presidency.

The scandal has unfolded in parallel with the fall from power of president Dilma Rousseff, who took over from Lula. She was suspended from office for an impeachment trial, potentially ending 13 years of Workers’ party rule.

Lula’s lawyers confirmed he would not be attending the 5 August opening ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics, which was secured under his presidency, due to the “political turmoil” in the country.

Brazil would have six months to respond to the petition, with the committee, comprised of 18 international jurists, set to take up to a further six months to reach a decision. More

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