Sat | Feb 24, 2018

Brazil judge sees efforts to curry favour for ex-president

Published:Friday | March 18, 2016 | 12:00 AM
In this October 13, 2015, file photo, former president of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (right) and current President Dilma Rousseff attend the Central Workers’ Union annual convention in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Demonstrators call for the impeachment of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and protest the naming of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as her new chief of staff, at Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, yesterday.


Tapped phone calls between ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and prominent public figures suggest that attempts were made to curry favour for the former leader in his judicial woes, according to the magistrate in charge of the sprawling corruption investigation at Brazil's state-run Petrobras oil company.

Judge Sergio Moro released nearly 50 audio recordings yesterday, hours after President Dilma Rousseff appointed da Silva as her chief of staff, a move that critics called an attempt to help shield him from potential detention as part of the corruption probe.

In his filing, Moro justified the release by saying democracies "demand that the people know what their officials are doing, even when they attempt to act under the cover of shadow." He also stressed there was no indication that the attempts to secure favours for da Silva bore fruit, but the day's rollercoaster of events seemed to stoke more anger at da Silva, Rousseff and the governing Workers' Party.

Police used tear gas and stun grenades against an estimated 5,000 anti-government protesters who massed outside Congress late Wednesday. Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro also saw protests. In the southern city of Curitiba, where Moro is based, hundreds gathered in front of the court to show support for the magistrate and his 'Car Wash' investigation into a corruption scheme at Petrobras that prosecutors say involved billions in bribes for inflated contracts.

On Sunday, an estimated three million people turned out for anti-government demonstrations nationwide.