The former chairman of Brazil’s ruling Workers’ Party surrendered to police on Friday after a court ruled that those convicted in a corruption scandal should serve their terms immediately.
Jose Genoino was one of 25 party associates linked to the 2005 “Mensalao” kickbacks scandal, which reached the highest echelons of the party of then-Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Genoino turned himself in following a landmark judgment on Wednesday by Brazil’s Supreme Court which upheld more than a dozen jail terms handed down in the scandal after a trial last year.
Brazilian news broadcasters showed him leaving his house accompanied by his wife.
He did not speak, but published a letter on his Web site saying he was “indignant — and I reiterate I am innocent; I have not committed any crime.”
“There is no proof for what they are accusing me of,” Genoino said, insisting he had been a victim of a media-driven witch hunt because of his position in the party.
“I consider myself a political prisoner,” he said.
The court has ordered the arrest of 12 of the 25 accused. Of these, nine have voluntarily surrendered to the police so far.
Several figures who recently wielded considerable political influence, including Genoino and Lula’s former chief of staff Jose Dirceu, face detention under a semi-open regime, allowing day release, but requiring him to spend nights in the cells.
Dirceu was sentenced to seven years and 11 months in prison for corruption for orchestrating a vast vote-buying scheme benefiting party lawmakers during Lula’s first term in power between 2003 and 2006.
Dirceu faces further charges next year, and if his total sentence surpasses eight years, he could be required to remain in jail around the clock.
“I shall keep fighting to prove my innocence and to have this spurious sentence annulled,” he said in the statement published by the Folha de Sao Paulo.
Former party treasurer Delubio Soares also faces time behind bars.
Kickbacks allegedly distributed to opposition lawmakers to back government bills led to the scandal being dubbed Mensalao or monthly allowance.
The court had revisited Brazil’s biggest ever anti-corruption investigation after a September judgment allowed sentencing appeals by 12 of the 25 former Lula party associates.
The group won a temporary reprieve when the court initially ruled that despite being found guilty in December last year, they were entitled to a new trial after obtaining at least four votes on the court panel against their original convictions.
That judgment sparked popular anger amid fears they would benefit from reduced prison sentences for convictions on criminal conspiracy and money laundering charges.
Already facing jail time is former Bank of Brazil marketing director Henrique Pizzolato, who has been given a 12-year, seven-month term.
While the image of his administration has suffered a grievous blow, Lula himself denied any wrongdoing. He was reelected in 2006 and left office in 2010 still enjoying high popularity ratings.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread