Evidence that a senior Brazilian judge collaborated with prosecutors to unjustly convict former Brazilian President Lula da Silva and others for corruption vindicates a year of campaigning for his freedom and could be a “Watergate” moment for the country, Unite has said.
Judge Sergio Moro provided prosecutors with advice and tips on what to investigate during the sprawling Operation Car Wash corruption investigation that saw hundreds jailed, according to leaks obtained by the Intercept news website.
Unite, which is a prominent backer of the Brazil Solidarity Initiative, said “the consequences of this miscarriage of justice are huge”.
Trade unionist and leftist politician Lula was likely to be reelected president of Brazil until he was jailed for nine years in April 2018, purportedly for taking a bribe in the form of a renovated apartment.
Lula’s replacement candidate Fernando Haddad was then beaten by far-right politician Jair Bolsonaro, who appointed Judge Moro as justice minister after he secured the presidency.
The reported collaboration between Moro and the prosecutors came to light after the Intercept published portions of “an enormous trove” of group chats from the encrypted Telegram messenger app, as well as video and audio files and other documents.
Additionally, excerpts of the messages obtained by the Intercept appear to show lead prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol voicing concerns over the strength of the case against Lula in September 2016 – four days before the indictment was filed.
Prosecutors also discussed ways to prevent Lula speaking to the media during the 2018 election campaign in order stymie support for Haddad, according to the Intercept.
Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said, “At the time of Lula’s arrest, myself and others made it clear that the investigation against him was an abuse of the judicial system – illegal wiretaps on his family and legal team, lack of material evidence, and evidence of his innocence were systematically ignored – and this is now indisputable.
“The released documents show that Judge Moro acted with blatant disregard for the basic principles of neutrality, justice and fairness. While claiming to be acting impartially, as preceding judges in any legal system around the world must, Moro was designing the very charges he was supposed to be ruling over.
“Not only were the investigators attempting to discredit Lula, these documents show that they wanted to destroy the Brazilian Workers Party (PT), and the huge progressive gains they made in poverty reduction, social mobility and other areas, ensuring that the right-wing returned to political dominance in the process.
“This case hasn’t just affected Lula’s freedom or the democratic right of 200m Brazilians. The example he sets for aspiring far-right authoritarians, wherever they may be, affects all of us.
“The only response from Brazil’s right has been outright denial and personal attacks on the journalists involved. In a climate where progressive councilwomen and human rights campaigner Marielle Franco was politically assassinated last year, we need to take this fight seriously, and stand strong with those in the defence of democracy.
“These revelations could be a ‘Watergate’ moment for Brazil. Trade unionists and progressives in Britain must continue to push for Lula’s freedom, and show that the consequences of this investigation have been far-reaching and must not be ignored.”